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Teen flick set in mental hospital

By Brian Offenther   (Shanghai Daily)

11:28, February 06, 2013

I appreciate this movie. Unfortunately for potential viewers of "It's Kind of a Funny Story," that movie is "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and not "... Funny Story."

"Funny Story" follows to a "T" John Hughes formula that made him such a success with 80s teen fare like "Ferris Bueller" and "Pretty in Pink."

Our story centers around your fairly standard middle-America teen (played by Keir Gilchrist). He's quirky, prone to flights of fancy and breaking the fourth wall to address the audience. He is misunderstood.

In a twist, he goes to mental institution with reoccurring suicidal dreams and angst over his application to a prestigious summer school.

It's a dark turn, but the parallels between a mental institution and a typical high school run deep.

In the institution, Gilchrist meets the requisite best friend character (Zach Galifanakis). He acts as our comedy relief, but also harbors a quiet desperation.

We learn all about our hero's social dysfunction, the pressure he feels from his piers and society, and his need to feel free.

It's all told with an excellent sound track of hip music with charming support characters played by non-traditional actors.

Dual directors and screenwriters Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck seem very restricted by the walls of the institution and the presentation is too flat for a teen flick.

The stylized characters seem forced and oddly separate from their surroundings. ,A notable exception is Galifianakis, who is both hilarious and pathetic.

It's in a stark contrast to the lead played by Gilchrist, who never seems to pull the viewer in.

"Funny Story" find some success, especially from an on-point Zach Galifianakis, but it clearly lacks the magic of the flicks that inspired it.

'It's Kind of a Funny Story' (2010)

Where to see it: Vienna Cafe (25 Shaoxing Rd, near Ruijin No. 2 Rd)
When to see it: February 7, 7:30pm
Price: Free
What to see: A quirky teenager gets in over his head when he commits himself to a mental institution where a cast of off-beat characters live.

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