It's Kind of a Funny Story

All of our defense shields were up as we entered the theater. We had very low expectations for this one; maybe that's why we were so pleasantly surprised.

This movie treats clinical depression like the illness it is. The teenage boy who commits himself to a mental ward is never derided, never scorned, never condescended to. In fact, by the end of what turns out to be a five-day stay, his high school classmates also acknowledge the seriousness of his situation and extend helping (and understanding) hands.

This is played like a comedy and yet we don't laugh AT our immature hero. He is grappling with his family's expectations, his classmates' super achievements and his own unrelenting dreams of suicide. They are presented as super-realistic satires and are, by themselves, fairly fantastical and funny. And yes, he's a teenager, so our first instinct is to not take him seriously; but after watching the mental health professionals and their astute (and respectful) treatment of him, we are forced to admit that maybe he does have a problem.

Of course in reality, things usually don't work out in just five days. But c'mon folks! This is a movie.

We were able to enjoy the talents of:

  • Keir Gilchrist ("The United States of Tara") who does a fine job as the teenager who wants some help;
  • Lauren Graham ("Flash of Genius") is his baffled mother;
  • Emma Roberts ("Valentine's Day") is a fellow patient;
  • Zach Galifianakis ("The Hangover") is an overrated actor who plays another patient;
  • Viola Davis ("Eat Pray Love") is a psychiatrist, with a wry (and winning) view of what that means.
We liked it more than we expected, and that was a pleasant surprise.