I always think it's too bad that Focus Features never releases any of their movies so anyone between LA and New York can see them. Well maybe you can if you live in a college town with an art theater or can make time for that one showing at the multiplex. They have a good track record with movies like "Lost in Translation," "Atonement," and many more.
"It's Kind of a Funny Story" follows in that trend. I think it was released in theaters for like two weeks in November, between Harry Potter and the big holiday releases. At least I vaguely remember seeing commercials for it, though maybe it was my imagination.
Anyway, the funny story is about Craig, a 16-year-old who is feeling pressured by his father to get into a special summer program that will set him up to get him into Ivy League schols so he can become CEO or president or something like that. On top of that he's got a crush on his best friend's girlfriend Nia. And maybe some other things too.
So one night he calls the suicide hotline and then goes to the emergency room. There he persuades the doctor to admit him to the mental hospital. Because of a convenient renovation the teens and adults are forced to live together. Almost immediately Craig starts to realize that he's made a terrible mistake, because the people in there are genuinely crazy. Though none of them are so crazy to be dangerous. They're all pretty much harmless.
He soon makes friends with Bobby (Zach Galifianakis, the bearded guy from "The Hangover") who sort of shows him the ropes of the place. Unlike "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" the nurses and orderlies are professional and somewhat caring in their treatment of the patients.
Craig also finds a kindred soul in Noelle (Emma Roberts) another teen who's actually tried to kill herself a few times. (Why isn't really explained.) While he falls for her he starts to realize hidden talents and to come to grips with his problems. And at the same time he helps Bobby and his Egyptian roommate and becomes sort of a mascot to the psych hospital.
The high concept way to describe this would be to say it's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" meets "Scrubs." There are a number of fantasy gags like in "Scrubs," including a sort of music video of "Under Pressure." Though the movie never resorts to slapstick gags or toilet humor. It was nice to see that Galifianakis could be more than the dumb fat guy in a movie. The movie manages to deal with serious issues of mental illness without making it too much of a joke.
My only complaint is that maybe it's a little too sweet at times. It might have been nice to get a little deeper into what was going on with Noelle and Bobby and some of the other patients.
But overall I found this to be a really enjoyable comedy/drama. If you like movies like "Little Miss Sunshine" then you'll probably enjoy this too. That is if you can find it first.
That is all.
My score: 90/100 (3.5 stars)
Metacritic score: 63/100 (2.5 stars)