Movies about teens coming of age, finding their first real love and learning that world is about more than just them are a mainstay of the Hollywood diet. They've been done from nearly every angle and every perspective.
That's what makes It's Kind of a Funny Story - a meshing of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and The Breakfast Club - such a nice change. While it does pretty knowingly embrace the cliches that go along with the type of film it is, there is one thing about it that separates it from its peer: none of their teenage protagonists check themselves into a mental hospital ward.
The movie follows Craig (Keir Gilcrhist), a 16-year-old high school student in New York City who is so overwhelmed by the day-to-day of dealing with family, pressures to get into a good school and having a crush on his best friend's girl that he enters a serious depression. So serious that he starts feeling suicidal, and goes to a hospital in the hopes of getting a quick cure.
Instead, he's mandated to stay there for five days.
He immediately falls under the wing of Bobby (Zach Galifianakis), a kind of head of the ward, who shows him the ropes of living in the ward.
The stereo-types are all there: the messed up kid, the quirky adviser, and the damaged girl, Noelle (Emma Roberts). What enfolds is also pretty true to form, as well, but what separates the movie is that instead of hiding their problems, being in a hospital ward forces them out in the open. It allows for what could be cheesy to instead have an honesty to it.
The subject is adeptly handled from newcomers Gilchrist and Roberts, especially in their scenes together, when they both stop being patients and become just two lost kids. Galifianakis is the comic leader of the movie, but he proves that he's got chops of his own, bringing some startling rage and subtly to his character.
While not an entirely game-changing movie, It's Kind of A Funny Story offers a look at some issues teens may not deal with openly. If for no other reason than that, it's worth a viewing.