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It's Kind Of A Funny Story (2010) Print E-mail
Wednesday, 09 February 2011
ImageWhen “It’s Kind Of A Funny Story” arrived, I had to do some hard thinking as to when I originally heard of this film.  I seemingly recalled seeing some commercial trailers for its theatrical release, but that is about it.  And that is too bad, as moviegoers must not have felt the need to spread the word about this film.  After a thorough watch, it is easy to see how many may frown upon this film.

First, let us leave aside all the nuances and factual errors when it comes to having a film full of mental patients.  It is usually hard in these situations not to upset someone out there who studies that particular area.

Keir Gilchrist, probably best known for his work in “United States Of Tara,” portrays Craig Gilner, a 16 year-old with mental issues causing him to contemplate suicide.  This was probably the weakest point of the film.  While it is the central plot, it was not developed well.  I’ve been in Craig’s shoes and Keir just doesn’t pull it off, or the script doesn’t allow for it.  The stress and anxiety felt by Craig don’t amount to a strong sense of suicide.  At most it is a middle case of depression.  The filmmakers may have been trying for more, but they didn’t pull it off.  Thus, the entrance of Craig in the mental hospital is a weak one.

Craig, for some reason, thinks that getting himself admitted to a psych ward will get him an easy fix or some drugs to alleviate the issue.  He believes he will be in and out in a matter of minutes or hours.  That is probably number two for me.  A kid of his intelligence, as is indicated in the film would know that going into a psych hospital means a minimum stay of several days.  Moving on.

Craig finds himself lost in a hospital wing that is full of true mental patients.  He befriends Bobby (Zach Galifianakis), a patient who acts with some amount of freedom and always hiding why he is in the mental hospital.  Craig also begins to fall for Noelle (Emma Roberts), the only other teen in the adult wing of the hospital.  The film runs in circles for a bit but finally finds its footing.
Craig struggles to deal with his family’s overbearing nature.  His father is always pressuring him, inducing Craig’s stress vomit.  Again, all of Craig’s stress is fairly one dimensional and not convincing.  Still, I am a sucker for the love triangles.  Craig is obsessed with Nia (Zoe Kravitz), his best friend’s girlfriend.  While in the hospital, Craig grows closer with Nia through telephone conversations, leading to and awkward and all too abrupt visit by Nia.  While believing that he is in love with Nia, Craig is also falling in love with Noelle.  As a viewer it is easy to see the similarities between Craig and Noelle, and not so much between Nia and Craig.

Throughout his stay in the hospital, Craig finds himself helping others, through loaning of clothes, pizza parties and rare music selections.  He also discovers his talent for art, something that he finds also calms his nerves.

“It’s Kind Of A Funny Story” is carefree for the most part.  While that not be the filmmakers’ intentions, that is how this film comes across.  The film is a great coming of age story, but ultimately it only scratches the surface.  The film almost feels like it was modeled a bit after “Lost In Translation.”

Emma Roberts is the star of the film for me.  Her modesty and sincerity is heartwarming and well received.  Galifianakis also delivers a good performance, providing some comic relief in the mental hospital as well as words of wisdom.

This film comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p, VC-1 encode at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1.  The image quality is not revelatory, but it more than satisfactory.  The image is mostly true to the filmmakers’ intentions.  Taking place in a hospital the image is dominated by green fluorescents, diffuse whites and blues.  Diffusion is key here.  At first it may seem like digital noise reduction, but it looks more like a lighting technique and intentional.  Details are spotty but predominantly adequate.  Costumes retain textures.  However, once again the style is one of diffusion so details and textures do take a hit.  Fleshtones remain accurate and colors are true to the original print.  The dream sequences provide for some incredible color schemes.  Just take a look at the “Under Pressure” sequence.  The image does not seem to be plagued by artifacting of any type.  Film grain remains intact.

The audio quality is a bit uneven.  The DTS-HD MA 5.1 is technically perfect, but the home theater mix is not quite there.  The ambience of the hospital is not as detail in the rear channels as I would have preferred.  There are occasional burst of audio in the rear channels, which is distracting.  It needs a bit more anchoring.  However, I will say that the “Under Pressure” sequence is incredible.  It is so removed from the other parts of the film that it doesn’t fit at all, but it is certainly an experience.  The LFE channel in that sequence is phenomenal, perhaps a bit overcompensated due to the fact that it isn’t present anywhere else in the film.  The dialogue is anchored in the center channel and is intelligible for the most part.  There are a few lines in the film that fall by the wayside and may require another take.  Dynamics are explosive between music and dialogue.  While it isn’t enough to reach for the remote, it is a bit jarring.  The pop/rock music used within the film gets plenty of surround treatment.  It isn’t discrete, but all the channels are used to their max, creating an enveloping but non-immersive experience.  Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that the audio track is terribly uneven.  I just can’t decide whether it is truly bad thing or not.

“It’s Kind Of A Funny Story” comes with a bland special features section.  There is no commentary track, and the featurettes are standard.  There is a collection of deleted scenes, some of which are quite interesting.  There is an outtakes reel that is better than most.  “A Look Inside ‘It’s Kind Of A Funny Story’” is a 3-minute summary.  Lastly there is a look at the NYC Premiere of the film, BD-Live and pocketBLU functionalities.

“It’s Kind Of A Funny Story” isn’t going to be for everyone.  If you get past the weak opening the film real starts to take off come the second act.  The audio and video qualities are not exactly demo material but that are worthy of being called Blu-ray.  I recommend this title.

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