Sunday, February 13, 2011

Film Yap: It's Kind of a Funny Story

When I first reviewed It’s Kind of a Funny Story a few months ago, I was disappointed by it. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck are such talented filmmakers and this just seemed like too mainstream of material. Their first two films, Half Nelson and Sugar, were based in this uncomfortable realism that really allowed characters and acting to shine.

This movie is just too much of artificial quirkiness. It feels too safe and that really hurts the story. It’s about a kid who admits himself into a mental asylum and then immediately regrets his decision. They won’t let him leave until the week is up (protocol and all that). That means he has five days to have a new understanding about life and love.

The film says through narration that it’s not as simple as that, but it turns out that it is. When he’s there he finds comfort from a lonely older man named Bobby and he finds Noelle, a girl who completely understands him. The only thing standing in his way is a subplot involving a girl he has a crush on back in high school.

Even though the film as a whole is too clean, there are still plenty of shining moments in it. Zach Galifianakis gives a marvelous performance as Bobby. In a few years he may be stuck like Steve Carrell, playing the same part. Just like Carrell had Dan in Real Life and Little Miss Sunshine, I’m worried this really strong performance may be one of the only times it can shine how good of an actor Galifianakis is.

There are plenty of nice smaller moments, often when it breaks structure and goes off on creative tangents. There is a musical number that could have been stronger, but it’s still a nice change of pace. Also Jeremy Davies appearing in any scene makes things just a little bit better.

The bonus features are pretty bare and mimicked the same tactics as the Frenemy DVD. Before this movie was made, Galifianakis was just a very funny comedian, not the Hollywood superstar. So now in a post-Hangover world the featurettes are all focused on him. The bloopers show his improv skills and the interviews ask the cast how great it was to work with him.

Film: 3 Yaps

Extras: 2 Yaps

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