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Dramedy More Hearts Than Laughs

Comic actors approach roles seriously in 'It's Kind of A Funny Story,' but let the comedy emerge too.

I’m not the biggest fan of silly comedies, which is what I thought It’s Kind Of a Funny Story would be.  Fortunately, I was WRONG here.  Yes, some members of the cast are known for their comic work (Zach Galifianakis in particular) but here, while comedy is certainly an aspect of this film, I didn’t find this film too silly at all. 

There is a tremendous sense of seriousness here, concerning the plot…a highly depressed teen decides he needs to be institutionalized.  Sounds like a laugh riot, right?  Well, I admit to prejudging this one before I put it in my DVD player.  And, thankfully, I was wrong.  The teen, Craig, is played perfectly by Keir Gilchrist (most notably known for the Showtime show United States of Tara)

Gilchrist doesn’t play Craig too down-and-out-of-it…yet he also allows Craig’s severe troubles to come through.  And Galifianakis, who is normally a little too over the top for me with his humor, takes this mostly dramatic role seriously…not giving his character Bobby too much or too little weight. 

Also in this mix is Emma Roberts as Noelle, a fellow patient Craig takes a shine to.  These characters are all lost souls…on different levels.  Craig is just an adolescent who takes his teenage angst more personally than his peers.  Noelle has more baggage than she should at her age.  And Bobby is an adult who just has one too many emotional foibles. 

The comedy comes in subtle and in the right places…but there is enough humor for me to go out on a   limb   and call this one…Heaven forbid…a dramedy.  I really do hate that term “dramedy” but it really sums up this film.  I would be hard pressed to call this film a straight drama…since it is not. 

This film is about all sorts of relationships…friendships, first loves, etc.  But, whereas many films about relationships veer off onto predictable roads of sex and happily-ever-after, this film proudly proclaims that nothing is predictable here.  After all, this is a mental hospital.  Happily-ever-after for these patients is a little different than it is for the rest of us.  If this movie would have copped out and ended with Craig and Noelle walking into the sunset, the innocent vision of this film would have been ruined.  This is a touching film, without being anywhere near sappy.  It is sweet and endearing without being too over-the-top or preachy.  

It’s Kind Of a Funny Story: 2010, rated PG-13, 101 minutes, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, starring Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis and Emma Roberts.  The Niles Public Library owns copies of this DVD. 

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