“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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.


IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines


The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.


Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.


A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.


Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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