It's Kind of a Funny Story

  • Review Date: October 7, 2010
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Coming-of-age dramedy explores teen pressures, angst.
  • Review Date: October 7, 2010
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The biggest message here is to choose life. Shape it, embrace it, make the most of it. Characters also learn that support and encouragement can come from the unlikeliest places, and you may be surprised at the joy of how accepting help feels.

Positive role models

Teenage Craig is overwhelmed (by school, girls, friends, life) and, at the start of the film, suicidal. But somehow he finds a way to shift his focus from the expectations that he feels he can't meet to ones that he'd actually like so that he has a life he enjoys. Bobby seems like a mess, despite the fact that he's about to transition into a group home. But he's empathetic and caring enough to take Craig under his wing.

Violence

A teen's imagined suicide is shown. Two patients bicker somewhat menacingly at breakfast. Another patient discusses cutting herself. A couple argues loudly in front of their child. A man has an angry outburst, yelling and throwing things on the floor/around a room.

Sex

A character ogles a classmate's chest. Later, she straddles him on a bed as they make out. A teenage boy and girl hold hands and kiss. Another couple kisses. Talk of teen characters having had sex. Patients discuss womanizing/success with the ladies. A fantasy sequence includes a character surrounded by beautiful women as "arm candy"; in another, the main character imagines his crush in the bath (shoulders/legs shown). A joke plays on multiple meanings for the word "beavers."

Language

Language includes "s--t," "crap," "laid," "d--k," "ass," "screw," "balls," "crap," "oh my God," "bulls--t," and (once) "f--k." A character gives the finger to someone else.

Consumerism

MTV, Mac, Gucci, Werther's, and Reese's are mentioned, as are prescription drugs like Zoloft and Atavan.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some talk about using Vicodin. Patients pop their pills. A teen talks about taking prescription Zoloft but goes off it without telling his doctor. A fantasy sequence includes characters holding cocktails. References to a character having done 100 tabs of acid. One character bribes a hospital janitor with pills. Jokes about getting high.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this irreverent dramedy based on writer Neil Vizzini's young adult novel It's Kind of a Funny Story -- which co-stars offbeat comedian Zach Galifianakis and former tween star Emma Roberts -- will likely appeal to teens thanks to its relatable take on how overwhelming life and expectations can be when you're in high school. Its mix of teen angst (the main character begins the movie feeling suicidal) and mental hospital drama and hijinks includes some salty language (including "s--t"), discussions about serious issues like suicide, and unsettling situations. There's also some kissing and making out and other references to sex.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Sixteen-year-old Craig (Keir Gilchrist) has been thinking about suicide -- how to do it, where to do it. Life has become too overwhelming for him: The kids at his specialized high school are hypercompetitive and overachieving, his father is pressuring him to apply for a summer program that will look good on his college applications, and he can't stop thinking about his best friend's girlfriend (Zoe Kravitz). Worried that he'll actually follow his plan to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge through, Craig checks into a mental hospital. Since the teen ward is under repair, he's left to mingle with the grown-ups until the doctors figure out the best course of action. There, Craig meets Bobby (Zach Galifianakis), the leader of the pack, who helps Craig settle in while he prepares for his own impending release, and Noelle (Emma Roberts), another teen with whom Craig immediately feels a kinship.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

There's so much to relish in this coming-of-age dramedy based on the same-named novel by Ned Vizzini. There's the story, which is rich and witty and confidently told. There's Gilchrist, who's both vulnerable enough and bold enough for the role. (A curious mix, but he has it, and it works.) And then there's Galifianakis, who proves that he's got a much wider range than his previous outings, mostly comedies, have revealed. He can be broken and funny at the same time. (Another curious mix.)

But the film is maddening, too. It bends to an inclination long seen in movies to paint mental hospitals (and their patients) as a wonderland of sorts, with eccentric patients able to crack wise given the opportunity and equally eccentric teachers and volunteers guiding their way. (It's either that scenario or One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest...) Is there really nothing in between? Aren't there people with heavy-duty problems who don't speak like stand-up comics and cheerleaders? Still, that's a forgivable offense, given how much empathy exists in IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY. It delivers with fascinating detours into the mind of a teenager living in a world defined by accomplishments (with a capital A), when, really, it's accomplishment enough to be able to live a little, laugh a little, and embrace the flawed nature of humanity.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the pressures that Craig faces in the movie. Are real-life teens as stressed out as that? Why? What are some ways to cope with the pressures of family, school, friendship, and dating?

  • Is there a stigma against admitting that you're depressed? Is it worse among teenagers? Why?

  • What is the movie saying about life as a teen in today's world? Do you agree?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 8, 2010
DVD release date:February 8, 2011
Cast:Emma Roberts, Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis
Director:Ryan Fleck
Studio:Focus Features
Genre:Comedy
Run time:101 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:thematic issues, sexual content, drug material and language

This review of It's Kind of a Funny Story was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 13 years old Written byPEMDAS May 15, 2011
AGE
14
QUALITY
 
I think the book was better. The movie was great, don't get me wrong, but it seemed so much shorter, and like it was missing all the depth and feeling of the book. I apsolutly adored the emotions in the book, and Craig's character. In the movie Craig kinda annoyed me at parts. I'm glad I watched the movie, but definitely glad I read the book first.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written bykhan2705 February 9, 2011
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

a good and adorable dramedy, good writitng.

3.5/5 What's a 16-year-old boy doing playing music and table tennis with adult psychiatric patients - on a school day? It's kind of a funny story... IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY, adapted from Ned Vizzini's 2006 novel of the same name, is the new comedy-drama from acclaimed writer/directors Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden (HALF NELSON, SUGAR). It's @5:00 A.M. on a Sunday in Brooklyn. Craig Gilner (played by Keir Gilchrist of "United States of Tara") is bicycling up to the entrance of a mental health clinic; this bright 16-year-old is stressed out from the demands of being a teenager. Before his parents (Lauren Graham [of PARENTHOOD] and Jim Gaffigan [of AWAY WE GO]) and younger sister are even awake, Craig checks himself into Argenon Hospital and is admitted by a psychiatrist. But the youth ward is temporarily closed - so he finds himself stuck in the adult ward. One of the patients, Bobby (Zach Galifianakis of THE HANGOVER), soon becomes both Craig's mentor and protégé. Craig is also quickly drawn to another 16-year-old displaced to the adult ward, the sensitive Noelle (Emma Roberts of the upcoming SCREAM 4), who just might make him forget his longtime unrequited crush Nia (Zoë Kravitz of the upcoming X-MEN: FIRST CLASS). With a minimum five days' stay imposed on him by the adult ward's staff psychiatrist Dr. Eden Minerva (Academy Award nominee Viola Davis), Craig is sustained by friendships on both the inside and the outside as he learns more about life, love, and the pressures of growing up. well i wasn't very excited about this movie, i mean i liked the trailer but the only thing i was looking foreward seeing in this movie was Zach. this movie good very average reviews, not a good thing. i have no idea what kind of humor is this, its definitely not silly one, maybe dark or witty. i love this kind of humor. this is such a different kind of movie i don't know its a witty comedy or just a dramedy with lots of intelligent, genius dry dark witty humor. this movie generally was very funny, i had an awsome good time watching this movie. this movie is not a masterpiece or excellent but a good movie or should i say a good attempt. this movie has this young lead actor Keir Gilchrist who is good at his job but he needs a bit more improvement which is quite normal ofcourse. he was good for the character he was playing and he played it well. Zach Galifianakis did an amazing job, i love this guy, he got terrific comic timings and he is so superb in these kind of roles, he plays this same kind of character in every movie. i never get bored or tired of it though. he is superb as always. did a good job. Emma Roberts wasn't much there and she was not good in the movie, i didn't liked her in these movie. Viola Davis was ok. acting wise not bad, good. direction of this movie was good, almost excellent. i liked there effort, screenplay was good, slight problem towards the end but still a very lovable and engaging screenplay. good cinematography and editing. i enjoyed watching this movie alot, had a really good time. it is a a touching, honest, and whimsical dramedy. a very adorable movie. The dream sequences and flashbacks were each done in different creative styles that I enjoyed. The sketched animation, freeze frames, and music video were fun. I couldn't help but think of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. good writing and everything else. SEE IT>
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byMillyMolly February 3, 2011
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Amazing :)

Great movie, I love the ending!
What other families should know
Too much sex

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential School Tools