“It’s Kind of a Funny Story”

Eclectic Media Outlet No. 1

In this series of posts I will be exploring the hundreds — literally hundreds — of DVDs and Blu-rays that my husband, Mitchell, and I own. Why that many, you might ask. Well… the younger generation may not remember the era that pre-dated the gaggle of streaming services now available; but I assure you that once upon a time, if you wanted to watch a movie (or a television series) more than once, you were obligated to buy a hard copy of such. And as I stated on my author page, I am a media junkie.

I don’t plan to bore my readers with synopsis information that can be gleaned by visiting IMDB (beyond some of the basic facts, just in case someone has an interest in watching the materials mentioned here), but more to share my personal connection to these films. And perhaps along the way, I will find a few that need to be weeded out and turned over to our local media exchange.

So let’s get started, shall we?!

“It’s Kind of a Funny Story” (2010)

© Misher Films Wayfare Entertainment

“It Kind of a Funny Story” is part of what I like to call my “loony bin” collection. After taking a few “vacations” to local mental institutions myself, I became obsessed with films about them; and this one is one of the lighter-hearted among them, while also demonstrating some terrible truths about the broken mental healthcare system. (For those of you who enjoy reading the books that precede films, this one is based on the titular young adult novel by Ned Vizzini.)

One of my favorite moments in the film (because sadly, there is truth in it) happens in one of the opening scenes. Craig, a sixteen-year-old who is struggling with suicidal ideations, rides his bike to a local hospital in New York City. He approaches the counter and says to the charge nurse, “I, um… I want to kill myself.” Annoyed with the fact that he has interrupted a personal phone call, the nurse hands him a clipboard and says, “Fill this out,” immediately returning to her call without further instruction and/or interaction with Craig.

At five a.m. he sits in an empty waiting room, and then has to plead with the Emergency Room’s attending physician to admit him, who at one point says to the boy that the patients he admits are “really sick”, and not just dealing with minor depression. But Craig persists, and the doctor does eventually commit him to the mental health ward.

Ten minutes into a tour of the facility, Craig decides that he’s all better — not nearly as crazy as the other patients — and asks to be released; but, as those of us who have had the unfortunate experience of being admitted under a “suicide hold” know, he’s now in it for the duration (which in this case is five days, compared to the shorter 72-hour holds that I was subjected to).

What I like about this film is that the facility itself is well presented. It actually looks like the institutions that I have spent time in. Shoelaces and belts are taken (in my case, drawstrings were also removed from my pajama pants), and most of the time, the patients on the ward are left to their own devices until it’s time to take their medications. However, Craig receives much better care from the ward’s psychiatrist than I ever did.

The cast of the film is — in my humble opinion — stellar. Zach Galifianakis (“The Hangover”) is stunning as Bobby (the ward’s most beloved patient). Emma Roberts (“American Horror Story”), Lauren Graham (“The Gilmore Girls”), Thomas Mann (“Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl”), and Viola Davis (“The Help”) play supporting characters with dignified gravitas; and Kier Gilchrist gives an amazing performance in the lead role of Craig.

And thus, this film will remain in my collection — streaming or not — and holds a special place in my heart due to the sober, true-to-life (if not somewhat optimistic) portrayal of the institutions some of us have found ourselves in, voluntary or not.

In later posts, inspired by memories recalled while watching “It’s Kind of a Funny Story”, I will share my own experience with “suicidal hold” commitment.