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  • Writer's pictureAva Marie LaMonica

Film Review: 'It's Kind of a Funny Story'

Updated: Oct 26, 2022


Photo from Rotten Tomatoes


It's Kind of a Funny Story is a comedy, drama, and romance film directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck based on the novel of the same name by Ned Vizzini. The film focuses on 16-year-old Craig Gilner, played by Keir Gilchrist, a soft-spoken and semi-awkward teen who is battling suicidal depression and stress vomiting stemming from his academic pressures and struggle in the relationship department. When his suicidal thoughts spiral and after stopping Zoloft, his daily antidepressant, Craig checks himself into a mental hospital. After much convincing to his doctor that he needs help, his doctor and parents issue him to stay at the hospital for a minimum of five days. However, the adolescence floor is closed, so Craig must reside on the adult floor of the hospital.

When Craig first arrives at the hospital, he immediately regrets his decision after observing the other patients with far more severe problems, such as his roommate Muqtada who spends the entire day in bed. During his stay, Craig forms relationships with several other patients, all with uniquely distinct personalities and behaviors. A bluntly satirical patient named Bobby, played by Zach Galifianakis, shows him the ropes and helps him get acclimated. Bobby is in the hospital for several suicide attempts and is currently in the midst of preparing for an interview to move into a group home after he is discharged. He also has a strained relationship with his family and longs to be close to his eight-year-old daughter again.

Photo from Den of Geek

At a group therapy session, Craig meets a teenage girl named Noelle, played by Emma Roberts, who struggles with self-harm. The two form a romantic bond, and Craig works up the confidence to ask her out throughout the film. At the same time, Craig also has feelings for his best friend Aaron's girlfriend named Nia, which makes things complicated.

Craig's bond with other patients, his sessions with his therapist, Dr. Minerva, played by Viola Davis, and his feelings for Noelle allow him to discover the things in life that he's truly passionate about like art and gradually he begins to see his problems from a fresh, new perspective.



On the night of my boyfriend and mine's four-year anniversary, we were in the mood to watch an inspirational and moving film, specifically around the topic of mental health because that hits close to home for the both of us. After hours of indecisive searching through my list of films to watch, I finally decided on a film that one of my best friends recommended us to watch several months ago, It's Kind of a Funny Story.

Full disclaimer, I am usually a stickler for movies on the topic of mental health due to the fact that they often misrepresent and ignore certain mental illnesses, encourage stereotypes, and enforce the idea that falling in love will cure one's mental illness. However, there are many movies on the topic of mental health that I truly value and have moved me in immeasurable ways, so I'm always open to giving these films a chance.

One thing that instantly drew me into this film was the narration done by Craig. I personally love films that are narrated because it helps keep my mind from wandering and makes films and television shows much more interesting and engaging. The film also had inspiring and motivational quotes and I'm always a sucker for a film with good quotes (I guess it's the writer in me).

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Another thing I admired about this film was the use of comedic elements. The film centered on a very serious and emotional topic but was still able to incorporate comedic dialogue in a way that complimented the film and made it unique, without being insulting.

That being said, there was a certain lack of consistency with these comedic elements making certain moments feel like a cheesy, PG-rated coming-of-age film and other moments feel like a hardcore R-rated comedy. The acting was also fairly well in this film, but the areas where the dialogue fell short sometimes stunted the true ability of the actors. Nevertheless, I laughed more than I cringed.

GIF from Giphy

The character development of Craig and the other patients was also strong and it was heart-warming to watch their development in dealing with their particular mental illness. However, one character who I feel that the film did not develop enough was Noelle. This was disappointing to me because Emma Roberts is a fantastic actress who I have always admired. While her acting still held strong, it was frustrating to me that the film never really touched on Noelle's backstory or went into greater detail about her mental illness. All the audience really knew was that she self-harmed from the cuts on her arms and face. Now, this would make sense if the director intended for each character's mental illness to be open to interpretation, but other characters, even those who had less than four lines, were given some sort of backstory or explanation towards their condition. Noelle was not only a main character, but also a love interest to Craig, so I wished to know more about her.

Photo from

Likewise, I also felt that the film rushed the relationship between Craig and Noelle. It was clear that the two teens had feelings for each other, however, one scene that threw me for a loop was when Noelle witnessed Craig shouting "I love you!" to Nia in the hallway of the hospital causing Noelle to burst into tears. While I understand that Noelle should have felt miffed or hurt internally, the dramatic scene from Noelle and endless apologies from Craig were confusing to me because the two were simply flirting for only less than five days.

I also felt that the relationship between Craig and Noelle sort of enforced the "love will cure your mental illness" theme that I previously mentioned. While other factors like therapy, painting, and Craig's friendships with other patients like Bobby also played a role in helping him battle his depression, the emphasis was ultimately placed heavily on Noelle even though she lacked a backstory and character development. I believe that there's absolutely nothing wrong with incorporating romantic relationships into films about mental health, it's a beautiful thing to showcase how love, empathy, and understanding are so vital in a relationship, but so long as it aids to each character and is not meant to cure the person.

While I believe that It's Kind of a Funny Story could've improved in quite a few areas, I acknowledge that some of the critiques I've mentioned may not be present in the actual novel and films don't always do the novel justice. However, this was certainly a film that was both touching and comedic with some very inspiring quotes. I would recommend it to anyone who's looking for a comedic, drama, and romance film on the topic of mental health.

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RATING: 3.5/5


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