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.