It's Kind of a Funny Story (PG-13)
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This is based on a book I haven't read. It starts on a bridge. What starts, you ask? Well... I guess a dream the protagonist often has. He's a 16-year-old boy named Craig Gilner, who's contemplating suicide (in real life as well as his dreams). He suffers depression because of various things, including stress which is apparently chiefly because of a prestigious summer school which his father (Jim Gaffigan) wants him to apply to. (I also want to mention that his mother is played by Lauren Graham, though I'm not sure what to say about her character.) Also there's his prestigious regular school, which he apparently feels he's not good enough for. And there's the fact that he's obsessed with his best friend Aaron's girlfriend, Nia (ZoŽ Kravitz). But rather than actually attempt suicide, he goes to a hospital's ER, hoping they can help him. He's pretty clearly not as bad off as a lot of people, but he makes a case for himself, and ends up getting admitted to the psychiatric ward. The teen floor is being renovated at the time, so he ends up on the adult floor, as are some other patients. (Though really the only one his age that I noticed is a girl named Noelle. But I'll get back to her.) Anyway, he had hoped they could give him some medicine or something, but after he's admitted, he finds out he has to stay there for a minimum of five days. This was on a Sunday, and he'd been hoping to be back in school the next day. That doesn't happen. (I should say right off, that he's only there til Friday, but it felt like he must've been there a lot longer than that.)
Um... probably the most important character I should mention other than Craig is a guy named Bobby, who he befriends. He's amusing, which he could hardly fail to be, given that he's played by Zach Galifianakis. There's also some more dramatic stuff going on with Bobby, which Galifianakis is also good at. I want to also mention other people. Like Craig's roommate, an Egyptian man named Muqtada, who virtually never leaves their room. And then there's Smitty, who worked in the ward. He seems of little importance, but I wanted to mention him mainly because he's played by Jeremy Davies from Lost. There's also a psychiatrist named Dr. Minerva (Viola Davis), and various other patients, who I felt weren't necessarily even worth mentioning. Except, of course, for Noelle (Emma Roberts), who seems to have gotten closer to trying to kill herself than Craig ever did. Anyway, she strikes up a friendship with Craig, which could lead to a romantic relationship.
I don't think I really want to say any more about the plot. But I identified somewhat with Craig, since I've often enough thought about suicide, but haven't really... done much of anything about it. Mostly. The kid's got a decent head on his shoulders, I think he always recognized that he didn't have it as bad as some people, especially when he started meeting the other patients. But knowing that doesn't really make it easier. Depression doesn't have to have solid reasons behind it, and what reasons there are can be magnified by the depression, rather than just causing it. (I feel like there are probably a lot of people out there who can't help but get pissed off at people like Craig- or me- who can want to kill themselves even when their problems aren't that serious, considering how many people there are whose problems are serious. And I don't really know quite what to say except that if you feel that way, you're both completely right and completely wrong.) I should also mention that Craig turns out to be good at drawing. (It hardly surprises me that an artist would suffer emotional problems, whether you're talking about visual arts, or writing, or whatever.) And there are a lot of, like, flashbacks in the movie, in which Craig narrates stuff. Some of it is viewed through his imagination, more than reality. And such things can also happen in the present, including an amazing scene where he's singing Queen's "Under Pressure" along with Bobby, Noelle, and everyone else in the ward, though we don't get to see or hear what it actually is like, we only see his imagined version. Which, as I mentioned, was amazing. (What we hear is the actual song by Queen and David Bowie, while seeing the patients all glammed out.) And, btw, a remarkably apt song for Craig's situation.
Well, I'll say that I probably appreciated the film more than most people would, given similarities between Craig and myself, even if I think he's somewhat better adjusted than I am. But it's still a somewhat funny and touching movie, even if it's maybe not as good as it could've been. I dunno. It's a tricky line to walk, trying to be both fun and meaningful. I could understand complaints about both sides suffering... it's not really a comedy and it's not really a drama, and I hesitate to even call it a dramedy. (I originally put the review under "quirky," but later moved it to "mental health.") I also hesitate to say it's particularly realistic, though I will say that real life is certainly a mix of comedy and drama, in which neither quality can usually live up to movies which devote themselves to pursuing one aspect over another. In that sense, the movie is kind of realistic. Honestly, I liked the balance of fun and drama, and I liked the occasional flights of fancy. And I liked Craig, Bobby, and Noelle. I liked how it ended. Will it stop me from killing myself, someday, in the distant future? Probably not. But for the time I was watching it, it made me happy to be alive. Which is something it's always good for entertainment of any kind to do. Bonus points if it stops anyone else from killing themselves. Or if it helps any non-suicidal people better understand those who are.