It’s Kind of a Funny Story

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: +2

Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts, Zoe Kravitz. Written and directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden.

FILMSYNOPSIS: It’s Sunday in Brooklyn and Craig Gilner (played by Keir Gilchrist of United States of Tara) is bicycling up to the entrance of a mental health clinic; this bright 16 year-old is stressed out from the demands of being a teenager.  Before his parents (Lauren Graham of Parenthood) and Jim Gaffigan (of Away We Go) and younger sister are even awake, Craig checks himself into Argenon Hospital and is admitted by a psychiatrist.  But the youth ward is temporarily closed – so he finds himself stuck in the adult ward.  One of the patients, Bobby (Zach Galifianakis of The Hangover), soon becomes both Craig’s mentor and protégé.  Craig is also quickly drawn to another 16-year-old displaced to the adult ward, the sensitive Noelle (Emma Roberts of the upcoming Scream 4), who just might make him forget his longtime unrequited crush Nia (Zoe Kravitz of the upcoming Mad Max).  With a minimum five days’ stay imposed on him by the adult ward’s staff psychiatrist Dr. Eden Minerva (Academy Award nominee Viola Davis), Craig is sustained by friendships on both the inside and the outside as he learns more about life, love, and the pressures of growing up.

PREVIEW REVIEW: I liked this film. It’s witty, well-acted, and has substance. It’s a perfect film for teens, yet it’s not. The bottom line message in the film comes from a Bob Dylan lyric – “He who is not busy being born is busy dying.” The film makes it clear that everybody has problems, which we sometimes forget because ours seem so looming. Not a bad message. Plus, the lead begins to appreciate what he has, he reaches out to help others, giving his own life meaning, and he gets the girl by film’s end. All that is good, but one small thing bothered me with this lightweight take on child psychology.

At one point in the story, our young hero says he feels like he’s been born again. But he’s quick to make his co-star and us viewers understand that his meaning is not “Born Again” as in a spiritual awakening where Christ has become his savior. The reference is somewhat condescending as if to say Jesus is not the way. That’s what a great many proclaim in movies, but these filmmakers never seem to take into consideration that their pronouncement may be wrong. It just never occurs to them that Jesus may indeed be the way. So, not only do they reject Him, they do their best to see that others do as well. How’d you like to have that on your head for the rest of eternity?

If something is bothering the soul, as in the case of depressed people wanting life to end, doesn’t it seem natural that one should explore the spiritual side of our nature? Here, the film merely looks at the issue from a secular, worldly, human approach.

Over the years I found from reading bios of movie stars that everyone has problems. Even the beautiful and the famous are unable to avoid dispute and pain. What’s more, their success, brought on by an unaccountable charisma and a considerable talent, is often the genesis for their stress and strain.

Let’s analyze this. If we can’t escape problems no matter how rich, famous, bright or beautiful we are, then maybe there’s an ethereal reason for these inescapable adversities. Maybe our struggle through toil and trouble is one of the main reasons we are here, for these woes cause us to turn to and trust God.

By studying both Bible Testaments, one must come to the conclusion that the only way to please God is through faith. And our faith seems to be important to our Heavenly Father. “And without faith it is impossible to please God…” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). We see through a glass darkly, but remember, we’re not alone and forgotten in the shadows. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you: I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Does God bring on the catastrophes? Does He cause the little child to die of leukemia or allow a blue-collar worker to lose his much-needed income? Does he bring heartbreak? These puzzles befuddle even the most brilliant theologians, so don’t expect too much profundity from this humble movie critic. But from studying His nature through the Word, God doesn’t seem petty, unforgiving or vindictive. And when the next ordeal overwhelms you, remember you are not alone in this travail. Others have been right where you are. And our Lord does promise to be beside us. “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand, and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13 NIV).

In Matthew, Jesus reminds us, “…and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Keep that verse close to your heart, for there will surely be times when you think He isn’t.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Focus Features

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: A couple of crude sexual remarks.

Obscene Language: Four obscenities, mostly from the lead – three s-words and one f-word; a few minor expletives – dams and hells; the female lead uses a crude gesture to show her distain.

Profanity: One profane use of Christ’s name.

Violence: In the beginning scenes, the lead, in a dream sequence, is seen attempting to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge. Blood: No blood, just vomit. Every time the lead gets stressful, he regurgitates, usual on others – or their food.

Sex: A couple of implied sexual situations, but nothing graphic.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: We see a friend of the lead smoking what appears to be pot.

Other: Deals with issues of depression and suicide attempts.

Running Time: 101 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and above

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