DID YOU READ

“It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” Reviewed

“It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” Reviewed (photo)

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Writer/directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck are victims of their own success. Their new film, “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” is getting the worst reviews of their career. As I write this, it’s currently hovering around 60% on Rotten Tomatoes, thirty points lower anything else they’ve made. I suspect that has less to do with the quality of “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” than its relationship to their previous films, “Half Nelson” and “Sugar.” Those films were designed to defy conventions, while this one is designed to conform to them. By comparison, I would agree that “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” is an inferior film: it is not as bold or original as Fleck and Boden’s others. But it is clearly not intended to be. It’s based on a young adult novel and it feels like a “young adult movie,” if such a thing exists. It tells a teenage story for a teenage audience and like a lot of teenagers it’s bound to be misunderstood by a lot of adults.

What adult could relate to the problems of Craig, the film’s protagonist? Played by Keir Gilchrist, he is a whiny, self-centered mope. Despite his comfortable and supportive home, despite having two parents and seemingly all the opportunities in the world available to him, he is depressed. Considering suicide, he walks into the emergency room of a New York City hospital and announces “I want to kill myself.” The clerk is nonplussed. “Fill this out,” is the response. This was not the reaction Craig anticipated. Neither is the result: since the hospital’s teen wing is under renovation, he’s placed in the adult psych ward, amongst people like Bobby (Zach Galifianakis), a Craig on the other side of middle age with a strange sense of humor.

Watching Craig, it becomes apparent that his troubles aren’t nearly as serious as his new neighbors, who face crippling social anxiety or schizophrenia or self-mutilating urges. He’s just a horny, lonely, misunderstood kid feeling pressured to get into the right school and find a girlfriend. To an adult, these problems seem trivial and hardly worthy of an entire film. To a teenager, these problems are the biggest problems in the entire world and not only are they worthy of a film, they’re worthy of thirty films and a hundred books, and a thousand Facebook wall posts.

Boden and Fleck do bow to cliché more often than they should; they’re smart enough to know that no film under any circumstance should include a scene where a guy tells a girl he loves her at the exact moment another girl he likes walks in the room, then runs away in tears. And they’re a bit too quick to laugh at the illnesses of the other hospital patients. But they understand the teenage psyche in ways a lot of mainstream films geared toward that age bracket do not. They treat teens’ petty obsessions like the world-ending crises they feel like at the time, but they don’t shy away from the fact that Craig needs to grow up either. They also get uniformly excellent performances out of a cast that includes Jim Gaffigan and Lauren Graham as Craig’s parents, Zoë Kravitz as Craig’s longtime crush, Viola Davis as a sensitive psychiatrist, Emma Roberts as a cutter locked up with Craig, and Galifianakis who, all things considered, played much crazier characters in “The Hangover” and “Dinner For Schmucks.”

We shouldn’t let directors off the hook when they fail, but we also shouldn’t hold them to a standard higher than they held themselves to. The adult in me got weary of Craig’s complaints pretty fast, but the part of me that remembers what it was like to be that age got it. I’m pretty sure if I’d seen this movie when I was 17, I would have loved it. Critics bashing it for not living up to Boden and Fleck’s past movies sound like tyrannical parents who are way too hard on their kids when they bring home an A- instead of an A on a really tough test.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.

via GIPHY

It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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