By Greg Elperin
The problem with romantic comedies, as I’ve often said, is that they’re rarely very romantic or very funny and too often just coast on their actors’ charm and a handful of reusable jokes.
Occasionally, a movie comes along with a genuinely heartfelt romance or some expertly written comedy and forces me to reconsider the genre. This isn’t quite one of those movies, but it’s still an ambitious attempt and a step up from the norm.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story follows Craig Gilner (Keir Gilchrist), a troubled teenage boy who checks himself into a mental ward and through a series of unusual circumstances gets placed into the adult ward.
The movie focuses on his development and his relationships with other patients, particularly Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) the source of most of the movie’s comedy, and Noelle (Emma Roberts), a 16-year-old girl placed in the adult ward through the same bizarre circumstance.
The relationship between Craig and Noelle is realistically awkward and unpredictable, with both some tender moments and some often unexpected humor.
Nonetheless, Zack Galifianakis is undoubtedly the selling point of It’s Kind of a Funny Story. While his last few movies had him playing standard fat comic relief roles clearly tailored for the likes of Jack Black, he gets a chance to really showcase his own quirky sense of humor this time around.
As a big fan of his stand-up, it’s great to see him in more or less top form again, and the scenes featuring him are some of the movie’s best.
It’s hard to say exactly who this movie might appeal to, since it’s too sad and introspective at times to take purely as a comedy but never takes itself seriously enough to win over fans of romance and drama.
Its unconventionality is its biggest asset and makes for an odd but mostly enjoyable experience.