Zach Galifianakis, Keir Gilchrist, Lauren Graham and Emma Roberts star in this uplifting comedy about finding sanity in the most unlikely of places. Sometimes what's in your head isn't as crazy as you think--that's certainly true for Craig (Gilchrist), a stressed-out teenager who checks himself into a mental health clinic for some time out. What he finds instead is an unlikely mentor (Galifianakis), a potential new romance (Roberts) and an opportunity to begin anew. Charming, witty and smart, it's a coming-of-age story that's kind of a funny story.
When 16-year-old Craig (Keir Gilchrist, The United States of Tara) gets admitted to a psychiatric ward, he's hoping for a quick fix for his suicidal impulses--but then he learns he can't leave for five days… which turn out to be the most transformative days of his life. It's Kind of a Funny Story takes a fairly thread-worn premise--that the mentally disturbed have life lessons to offer the supposedly sane--and breathes some fresh life into it with generous writing and solid performances. Craig's most important relationship is with Bobby (Zach Galifianakis, The Hangover), a troubled father who transfers some parental affection to Craig; the conversations between the two of them are above and away the heart of the movie--a genuine and nuanced portrait of two people grappling with depression and neurosis. Standup comedian Galifianakis is turning into one of those character actors who give every movie they're in a boost; his performance here is honest, sensitive, and without a shred of self-pity or pandering. The rest of the movie is uneven--a romance with a self-cutting young girl (Emma Roberts, Nancy Drew) is pleasant but bland, and some therapy scenes are obligatorily heartening (though again, elevated by the acting, in this case Viola Davis, Doubt)--but the relationship between Bobby and Craig makes the whole movie well worth watching. --Bret Fetzer