REVIEW: IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY
Written for the screen and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, this is part teen emo-dramedy, part straight-adult-themed-drama. It is based on 2006 novel of the same name, by Ted Vizzini. The film is set in the adult psychiatric ward of a New York hospital where our young lead Craig, played by Keir Gilchrist, checks himself in for help after he decides he wants to kill himself.
This plays out in a way as a coming of age story, but in that regard, I do not think it succeeds. Somehow, even though I feel like I shouldn't like this movie, I do. I liked it a lot. It was exactly the movie I needed to see at exactly the moment I saw it.
Going to the movies is more than just: "what's playing?" It is important to go and see movies that match your mindset. We were at the end of 2 crazy weeks, I was feeling a bit bonkers, and a movie about the psych ward was just about perfect for me..
Boden and Fleck, who previously wrote and directed SUGAR and HALF NELSON, have a knack for churning out films best described as indie darlings. I think that as filmmakers, we will be seeing and enjoying much from this writing/directing pair.
As for FUNNY STORY, this film is a very sweet story, but truly, almost to a fault. Our lead, Craig is depressed and he checks himself in to what very well may be the most Utopian adult psychiatric center in the world, let alone New York.
Here is where I will make a distinction for this film. This is by no means an accurate portrayal of the state of conditions in a psychiatric center. In fact, I would be willing to bet that most people who see this will be angered by the skewed perspective of these facilities.
So then, if not accurate, then what is this movie? It is a fun, cute, hip story that has some great stars and was very fun to watch, including a great musical number that really struck me as touching.
Zach Galifianakis is more-fortunate than Will Ferrell in two ways:
1) His breakout hit (THE HANGOVER) brought him into the spotlight on a bit more of a meteoric rise than Ferrell had to fight for across the span of SNL and into smaller movie roles.
2) He has tapped into his dramatic side a bit earlier than Ferrell did, which I think will keep him more fresh in each role, as we the audience, won't be beaten into the ground with Galifiankis wackiness.
Galifianakis is talented, funny, can play things serious or play them hilarious...or play them serious which turns out hilarious. He stands near the top of my favorites of the moment. If you get a chance to see him do stand up, jump on it. He is the lone wolf...he is the wolf pack...he is a gem of American cinema of the moment and hopefully into the future.
Wow, that was quite a sidetrack, but Galifianakis is worth it.
This movie had some real high points. I was at the end of a two week stretch from hell...little sleep, lots to do...I think I was a bit more emotional than usual and perhaps related on a more emotional level. The film was a bit too sweet, but it still worked. This was a mental institution wrapped in a red bow with frilly edges. This was by no means anything resembling real life, but it was a funny, touching story than in my opinion shows creativity in film making interlacing the songs, the art, and the flashbacks into a movie that plays as hip and fresh.
Also, on another note, Emma Roberts is cute as a button, and I think I have enjoyed everything she has been in...she is a chip off the old block, with her poppa being Eric Roberts and her auntie being Julia Roberts.
I give IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY a 4 of 5 horn rating...I really liked it, but perhaps not for the reasons the filmmakers intended. Give it a try, it is entertaining at the very least. I have embedded the trailer at the bottom of the site. Check it out. I will tell you that I loved the trailer. Perhaps it was the music, which was provided for the film by Broken Social Scene, but I originally feared that this would be a case where the trailer would be far better than the actual movie. That is not the case, but this trailer is well cut and definitely shows this flick in the most favorable manner possible.
REVIEW: CASE 39
The most interesting part of Case 39 is not the movie, it is more the fact that this movie was filmed in 2006 and slated for a 2008 release. It got stuck in distribution hell and sat for over two years awaiting release. This is not director Christian Alvert's first movie. He also released Pandorum, last year, which I think is a much stronger movie. Case 39 was made two full years before Pandorum. Hopefully the vast superiority of Pandorum over Case 39 will show up as further improvement in Alvert's next flick.
See it at home, there is nothing at all to be gained from seeing CASE 39 in the theater. 3 of 5 horns...perhaps even more towards a 2.5...nothing special. You will be fine watching this at home, and just as good missing it all together. One of the benefits of checking this out is seeing Bradley Cooper in the early days of his acting when he was just becoming Bradley Cooper.
More from the Reel Rhino soon...
...till then, take care!