It's Kind of a Funny Story

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
It's Kind of a Funny Story Movie Poster Image
Coming-of-age dramedy explores teen pressures, angst.
  • PG-13
  • 2010
  • 101 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 13 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & representations

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

Adult Written bykhan2705 February 9, 2011

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......
Parent Written by1413391 March 9, 2012

Everyone should see this smart, thoughtfully written film!

I think this is a good story for families that are dealing with Depression, Anxiety, and Stress. My reasoning is that though the role models are atypical and so...
Teen, 13 years old Written byPEMDAS May 15, 2011
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...
Teen, 14 years old Written byMillyMolly February 3, 2011

Amazing :)

Great movie, I love the ending!

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?

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.

Talk to your kids 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

For kids who love quirky characters

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