Dave's Rating:

2.0

Emphasis on "kind of."

Who's In It: Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts, Viola Davis, Zoe Kravitz, Aasif Mandvi

The Basics: A suicidal 16-year-old boy checks himself into a psychiatric hospital and, thanks to something about "renovations" on the floor for minors, he winds up in a place where teenage and adult patients mingle freely. He's there for a mere five days, but his desire to die evaporates fairly quickly and he finds mental illness to be pretty easy to navigate. In fact, his very presence winds up bringing about all sorts of positive changes in the lives of the other patients. Turns out all those clinically depressed and/or bipolar people just needed a warm moment of playing basketball with a younger brother type. This means that he's magic or that this movie is full of it. Your call.

What's The Deal: Ultimately, what you're supposed to care about here is whether or not it makes you laugh. And when it does its job properly, you will do that. But that's where the title delivers its most disappointing punch. It truly is only "kind of" funny. All the other scenes are spent inadequately exploring this kid's problems and doing a horrible job of convincing you that he's got anything more wrong with him than regular coming-of-age stress (his dad pressures him a lot about school, he's in love with his best friend's girlfriend, etc), groping around in the dark for reasons why he dreams of suicide. But again, it's essentially a teen comedy about mental illness, so the stakes are kind of low, not worth getting too worked up about. It may not be One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but it's also not Patch Adams.

Worth Watching For: Zach Galifianakis. If all you know about him is The Hangover, this will be a surprise. He's the funniest person in the movie and he's got a way of making you laugh at the most deadpan dialogue delivery. Weirdly enough, he's also the most compellingly serious person here too. He upstages his kid co-star at every turn without even trying.

Self-Indulgence You Won't Mind: A music video fantasy sequence where the entire cast performs David Bowie and Freddy Mercury's "Under Pressure" dressed up in ridiculous glam rock gear. It's dumbly on-the-nose but at least you can enjoy Galifianakis jumping around like an idiot with a beard full of glitter. And the reason you won't mind it is because it stands in for a music therapy session that would have been earnest in a send-you-to-get-popcorn way otherwise.

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Comments (3)

Ricky - 10-18-2010 7:54 PM
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I have to completely disagree with this review. I think Dave is completely missing the point of the film. It's only supposed to be "kind of" funny. The title is literal, not tongue in cheek. It's not a comedy. I think the film sends an excellent message to young adults and teens and really asks them to reevaluate where they think their lives are at. The point of the movie is, as much as the protagonist thinks his life is horrible, he realizes it actually isn't all that awful. Mental illness and suicide are touchy subjects, and I think the film does a fantastic job at treading the line, so as not to be too serious, and make the movie a downer, but also not to be offensive with its humour. It's an uplifting story with a message. Not a comedy.

Hermione - 10-22-2010 4:24 PM
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Mental hospitals consist of physical and chemical restraint, isolation, electroshock "therapy", fights, and windowless 6X7 rooms watched by angry guards. They do not consist of clean, well-groomed teenagers roaming the halls, drinking coffee, and watching a sunset from a rooftop. Just sayin.

Maslo - 10-28-2010 2:39 PM
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Honestly, not every mental hospital (in fact I'd venture that fewer rather than more) uses the extreme methods you've mentioned, Hermione, because it's not always necessary. People are admitted for different reasons. Then, there are varying degrees of seriousness with each illness; it just depends on the individual. I liked this movie. It wasn't what I expected, but I agree that the film emphasizes putting things in the proper perspective. The fact that Craig's friends admit to sometimes feeling the same way that he does seems to drives that point home. He realizes that his life isn't so bad after seeing how bad it could be.

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