This post is a continuation from the last – a two part review of the script and movie It’s Kind of a Funny Story.
Now having seen the movie, my general assessment from the read alone is confirmed – this version of story is lacking. I actually was a bit antsy and frustrated watching, as I was at times suffering through scenes I had just crawled through in print. Now, as I haven’t read the book, I don’t know if it’s just a miss on paring for the feature structure, or if the story fundamentally has a lack of flow and depth. I suspect there must be some elements of the novel that just aren’t carrying through, as the book is rated consistently high, unlike the film. With such a rich opportunity for real emotion, the drama should work, and sparing that, comedy found – but nothing lands, for the most part.
It is unfortunate because I actually think the casting is pretty great. Keir Gilchrist really is a perfect match for Craig. I think he did the best job handling his role and making it as real as possible. I also think that Zach Galifianakis was a superb pick for Bobby. Perhaps if he strayed from the script a little more and tried to help recover the timing of the lines, the lacking sincerity, the movie would have benefited. Emma Roberts did pretty well but perhaps someone with a little more hidden beauty would have made more sense here.
Have you ever seen someone doing something and understand what they are trying to do, but seeing that isn’t quite doing it right or getting the effect they want? This is how it seemed to me. Many of the dialogue exchanges seem ideas thrown in and not a natural progression.
Changes from the Script
This section is possibly more interesting because the writers also directed the movie. Now, some of these changes certainly could have been made in editing. But that also was done by one of the writers!
- Changes I understood
- When Bobby returns from his interview, he’s upset, he’s worried he messed it up. In the script it is described as a child-like tantrum on the couch, but in the film it is a bigger, more grown-up outburst.
- In the script there are a couple of places where Craig imagines Aaron being present and chiming in. This didn’t happen in the film. I think that’s good as it takes the emphasis away from the frustration with Aaron and keeps the focus on Craig.
- Noelle meeting parents was removed – for simplicity and not moving them along too far, I think it works.
- Changes I didn’t understand
- Left out parental help montage. I thought this was a good way to show the parents have tried to help and he has a good support system.
- Nia says therapist, not pills, when confiding to Craig. I guess it might be good to not state all driven kids are on stress pills, but it lost some of the connection for them, I thought.
- Overall change in the ending is for the better. The scene and dialogue is condensed.
A few specific things bothered me the read, the film or both:
- I don’t get the Cribs reference. Some of the vision in the sequence about “what happens if you don’t get in” didn’t make sense. A presidential person isn’t usually obsessed with pop culture.
- Bobby should understand Craig, but doesn’t. This might not be fair, perhaps Bobby is where he is because he didn’t have it as “good” as Craig, but that really isn’t the point, right? Everything is relative. When you feel depressed, it really doesn’t matter what you have in your life that is good.
- The brain maps don’t look like brain maps. They looked like city-scapes. This really bugged me for some reason. When I look at the cover of the novel, it makes more sense.
- Bobby decides to throw in an inspirational line. To me, it doesn’t resonate with Bobby, it doesn’t seem natural. And there really is no set up – it’s just thrown in when Bobby stops by.
- I wanted to really like seeing the honesty in Aaron at the end. But I have a hard time with the inconsistency from every other image of him in the movie. Perhaps if he just stopped to show concern for his friend that would be enough, but the other words just aren’t believable.
- There is a scene where the group in the hospital plays instruments and Craig is put up to singing. This is meant to be a sort of transformational scene, but we get completely robbed of witnessing the actual transformation. Instead we get some fantasy reel. I would have loved seeing him start timid then come to life as he embraces the lyrics and energy of the song.
So, I write all of this, and I’m sure it sounds like I hated it, but there were some good pieces. Remember that I’m just an amateur and to take everything with about ten grains of salt! The reviews on movie sites are pretty mixed. Some thought it was pretty funny (unlike me). The novel, however, is rated very high. Perhaps it is simply a miss in translation from print to screen and it still worked for some but not others.
This was a fun exercise and I’m likely to do it again.