Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Cast: Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts
Sixteen year old Craig Gilner (Gilchrist) has checked himself into a psychiatric ward by mistake. It’s all getting a bit too much for him - he has a pushy father, a fragile mother, a kid-genius of a sister, and he’s obsessed with his best friend's girlfriend. No wonder he stress-vomits. After failing to jump off the Brooklyn bridge, he checks himself into a psychiatric hospital, but he ends up in the adult ward as the teen ward is being renovated.
He is introduced to the characters of the ward; Bobby (Galifianakis), with whom he quickly forms a connection, Soloman (who has very sensitive hearing) and Muqtada (who refuses to leave his bed). He also meets another scarred teen staying in the adult ward: Noelle. She’s hot.
Craig realises almost immediately that he does not belong there, and his enforced five-day spell in the psych ward helps him to put his middle-class woes in perspective. He participates in the activities; there’s an unintelligible points system, a ping-pong table (but it’s pointless playing with anyone on meds), and also enriching sessions of art and music. He realises, in the end, he just another mixed up teenager.
It’s a feel good story, that feels somewhat familiar. But the charming characters and witty script pick up the slack. Galifiniakas leaves his loveable moron behind, and Gilchrist is surprisingly sympathetic for a poor little rich kid. It is a lot lighter than the directors’ earlier work, particularly Half Nelson, and has fewer rough edges. There are touches of Wes Anderson, hints of Garden State and more than a passing nod to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It is, however, perfect if you want a funny and intelligent film that doesn’t wear black, claims no one understands it and cuts itself.
It’s not One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but it is an uplifting and articulate film about being a bit mixed up.