Craig Kilner wants to kill himself. Well ... wait, actually, no.
He doesn’t want kill himself per se. He’s a hyper-aware, paranoid, anxiety-ridden 16-year-old who has some fleeting thoughts about suicide. He thinks about dying — as an exit strategy, really. And that makes him feel guilty.
He’s got a great family, he’s smart, he loves his little sister. Craig realizes he can’t kill himself. He has college applications to do: He doesn’t have time for suicidal thoughts.
Looking for a quick fix — maybe some kind of anti-adolescence serum? — Craig goes to the emergency room. Can’t they just give him some pills that will make him think less suicide-y and more college-application-y? Nope. Instead, Craig gets a five-day stay in the psych ward. And when you’re in, you’re in.
He realizes fast that his problems are thin compared to those of his fellow patients — his agoraphobic roommate, the girl who cuts her face, the guy who dropped too much acid. But Craig understands how they’re feeling. Maybe he could learn something by helping them?
It’s Kind of a Funny Story is just that: kind of funny. A better title would have been It’s Kind of a Funny Story If You Are Living in Denial About the Mental Health System. Or: A Kid’s Field Trip to the Psych Ward: Proof That Hollywood Can Glamorize Anything.
I’m not PC when it comes to joking about things you shouldn’t joke about. But I couldn’t help but wonder why this movie exists. Craig’s trip to the psych ward is unrealistic. And the implied takeaway — “Your problems aren’t that bad. Get over it.” — gets under my skin.
The problems of a teenage scholar living on the Upper East Side aren’t so bad when compared to those of schizophrenics. Or suicidal adults, even. It made me wonder, did they call It’s Kind of a Funny Story because it’s kind of funny how freaked-out — as a culture — we are about mental health? Is it kind of funny how little we want to understand about it? Are the directors poking fun at us? Is that the funny part?