It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010)

It's Kind of a Funny Story (2010) With all the lowest common denominator films that are produced in Hollywood, there is still a glimmer of hope when you see indie films such as It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010) that takes a new spin on the tried and tested mental ward genre personified by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975).

The centre of attention is instead a 16-year-old Craig (Keir Gilchrist) who is feeling the stresses of life-bearing down on him. Already they have dragged him into the dark world of depression, a whole can of worms that I personally don’t wish on anyone. Leading him to have suicidal thoughts, something he contemplates but can never bring himself to go through with, riddled with guilt about what and who he’ll leave behind. Not the first thoughts on the mind of someone who seriously contemplates this awful course of action. Thankfully he walks in his nearest hospital where he later spends the next five days and the duration of the film.

Where he meets some colourful and disturbed people, each with their own problems that are touched upon. None more so than Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) who we see at first as just being Galifianakis again at first. Turning out to be one of his better roles away from the world of comedy where he has proven his obvious talents in recent years. Here however he takes on the role of the mentor to the young man who feels weighed down by the pressures of high school, which to a British viewer seems crazy and going way to far. Of course they are those who take on extra-curricular activities and alike to improve their prospects. However this is taken more to the extreme in the U.S where a life or death competitiveness has been engrained into the culture of young people who take on far too much, pressuring themselves beyond belief. No wonder there is an increase in young people having depression in all its nasty forms. Added to the social pressures to conform in a dog eat dog world of high school which pales in comparison to the U.K. There is always a desire to do well and excel where you can in subjects, but not to the extreme that is found across the Atlantic. This is just one of the issues that is touched upon in this uplifting film.

During the running time Craig undergoes not just the tried and tested talking therapy with a psychiatrist that shows him slowly opening up from being a confused and flustered person to one who is more open and relaxed about his approach to life. Seeing beyond the classroom and all the pressures that are found within to meet the deadlines and the targets to be the best student and reach that dream job.

Throw into the mix the usual love interest in the form of Noelle (Emma Roberts) who has reached lows that Craig has thankfully never reached. Problems that aren’t mentioned in the film. As convenient as this love interest maybe she creates some great scenes for Craig who goes on a 5 day journey that sees him mature and realise that he’s not alone in life, that he has so much to offer if he opens up. Still very much at the start of his journey he makes some strides to reach a more positive steps.

For a film that deals with depression which is now thankfully seen as a real medical condition, that is more readily accepted in society, it’s very light in tone, a tone that should be replicated more in life, an acceptance that for the sufferer is something they fight to find. More so it’s a comment on the pressures that young people are faced with and how much damage they can do to a young and fragile mind that. I don’t envy anyone between the years of 12 and 19, as their minds and bodies transform into their adult and final form. What can seem like years of pain and angst as everything around them changes. Beginning to understand those changes can be tough. Matched with the increased freedoms, exciting times and experiences that are opened up to us all as we reach an age where we are once again ourselves in adult form, able to look back on those years and think I’m glad they are over but I’m glad I went through them and learnt what I did.

A refreshing take on mental health from a new and sometimes comedic point of view. It never mocks mental illness it sees it for what it is from a young persons point of view, with all the visuals that are found with indie films. It’s also about time that America starts to see what it’s culture of achievement is doing to the fragile minds who compete for the best of the best. Maybe settling for what makes you happy is more important than living the aspirations of others.

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