Let’s face it: one’s teenage years can be some of the toughest to endure. In Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story, we are brought into the world of a teenager living with depression and suicidal ideations.
While you might think it’s a strange title for a book that tackles such serious issues, it’s actually pretty fitting. Whether it’s school, relationships and friendships, Vizzini has precisely depicted the torment and pressures that teenagers experience. How did he do it? Well, he lived through it. In this semi-autobiographical novel, Vizzini relives his time in an inpatient psychiatric ward. Whether you’re a teen or know someone going through hard times, this is one novel I recommend adding to your bookshelf.
The novel follows Craig Gilner who about to begin his post graduate life from Stuyvesant High School to Pre-Professional High School. But after he’s accepted, he starts thinking about his life, all the pressure he’d be under and finds himself struggling with the suicidal thought of jumping off The Brooklyn Bridge. It’s in that moment when he manages to dial 1-800-suicide and even walks himself to the nearest hospital where he gets checked into an inpatient treatment program—much to the pride of his mother: “This is the bravest thing you’ve ever done.” Vizzini takes us on a rollercoaster of laughs and sadness, introduces us to some great characters and shows how his outlook on life changes after checking out.
We know you probably want to start devouring your resolutions this January, but don’t forget to take some time and recover from the go-go attitude and gluttonous meals of the holiday season. Call a friend and have a movie marathon, celebrating 10 movies you probably haven’t seen but SHOULD see this year.
Based on the novel by Joe Dunthorne, the film is a coming of age story of a 15-year-old boy named Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts). Entering his mid-teens, he only has two objectives: to lose his virginity before his next birthday and make the chemistry between his parents come alive again, just as his mother’s ex-lover re-enters the scene.
The vibe of the movie is very Wes Anderson, with its unique humour and eccentric characters. Coupled with songs from the Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, this movie probably has one of the most underrated soundtracks EVER.
Anyone who’s a sucker for indie romances will enjoy Ruby Sparks. Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (who also directed Little Miss Sunshine together), the film stars Paul Dano as Calvin, a struggling novelist who manifests a female character he thinks will love him. And out of the blue, she, aka Ruby Sparks (played by the movie’s screenwriter Zoe Kazan), becomes real.
This may sound awfully similar to Stranger Than Fiction but this movie is not your typical romantic comedy. While whimsical, cute and endearing, the film’s ending is surprisingly realistic. And to be honest, I wish most Hollywood films resolved things just as nicely as this movie did.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story
Based on the novel by Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of a Funny Story stars Keir Gilchrist as a 16-year-old who checks himself into an adult psychiatric ward after attempting suicide. Feeling pressured by his friends and parents to do well in school, he deals with his problems there, while meeting a range of interesting characters (played by Zach Galifianakis and Emma Roberts), who are dealing with their own issues too.
Mental illness is often a touchy issue when it’s meant to be comedic, but this film successfully meshes in the right amount of humour and drama to provide a touching, coming of age story. Those who are used to seeing Galifianakis as the satchel-wearing Alan in The Hangover will be interested to see him playing a more dramatic role, while Gilchrist and Roberts shine as awkward teens trying to sort out their growing feelings for each other.
And can I mention how great the soundtrack of this film is? Featuring the likes of Broken Social Scene and The Middle East, I also watch this film solely for this awesome scene.
Lars and the Real Girl
Before Ryan Gosling stole our hearts in Crazy, Stupid, Love, he starred in an indie comedy called Lars and the Real Girl. Playing a delusional and lonely young man, Gosling’s character strikes up an unconventional relationship with a sex doll he finds on the Internet.
This is honestly one of the most heartfelt movies I’ve ever seen with one of the best performances I’ve ever witnessed by Gosling. Unlike the actor’s more recent bad boy roles in Drive and The Place Beyond the Pines, Gosling is sweet, lovable and awkward here. You’ll just want to give him a hug when you watch this movie. (It’s not like we don’t want to do that now anyway.)
The art of producing a comedy-drama is a delicate one. Tell too many jokes and you run the risk of your message getting lost. Go too serious and the audience may feel bogged down in the story or worse, ripped off by your lack of gag material. There’s a fine line filmmakers have to walk in order to achieve success in this hybrid genre, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make a winner. “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” opening October 8th in Toronto and October 15th nationwide, walks the razor thin tightrope with the unshakable balance of past genre stars. It may be a little early to call it a sealed deal, but the film based on Ned Vizzini’s popular novel of the same name is most definitely in the running to become this year’s Little Miss Sunshine or Juno equivalent.
The film tells the story of sixteen-year-old Craig (Keir Gilchrist), an imaginative overachiever who’s struggling under the pressures from his family and academic career. After experiencing a particularly vivid suicidal fantasy, Craig decides to check himself into a mental health clinic. Shortly after he’s admitted, Craig finds out that due to ongoing hospital renovations the youth ward has been temporarily closed – meaning that he’ll be spending his 5-day stay intermingling with both teen and adult patients. The situation is daunting for Craig until he meets Bobby (Zach Galifianakis), a 36-year-old fellow patient who decides to mentor Craig through his stay. Craig also bonds with Noelle (Emma Roberts), a suicidal teen with an affinity for Radiohead and line drawings. With the help of Noelle, Bobby, and the rest of the ward, Craig reprioritizes his life and discovers that beauty and happiness can be found in the most unexpected of places as long as you’re brave enough to go looking for it.