TIFF: Boden/Fleck’s latest dividing audiences

Posted by · 8:16 pm · September 10th, 2010

This hurts my heart.  Sure the trailer for Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” looked a bit twee, but after “Half Nelson” and “Sugar,” it’s okay to give a little slack and offer the benefit of the doubt.

But some are walking away in outright disgust.  Tweets James Rocchi, “It’s a lazy, cliche-ridden artistic and emotional fraud that loves itself to death.”  Drew McWeeny, meanwhile, pulls no punches in his HitFix review, calling it “an agonizingly phony piece of work that struggles to be a sort of ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ for teenagers, but which ends up regurgitating platitudes in place of any genuine insight or emotion.”

Elsewhere, the AV Club’s Scott Tobias straight up calls it a “let down” while The Playlist quips, “it’s kind of a disappointment.”  And this guy lands a devastating blow: “What’s worse than a calculated sell-out? A failed attempt at same.”

But wait, maybe it’s not all so bad.  In a video review with Collider’s Steve Weintraub (who “liked but didn’t fall in love with” the film), /Film’s Peter Sciretta says he “really related” to the film’s coming of age story.  And if you need a slightly more authoritative take, Andrew O’Hehir says it’s “a measured, delicate, nicely acted loony-bin heartwarmer.”

I have to think this duo is incapable of the dreck Rocchi, McWeeny, etc. apparently saw, but nothing ever really surprises anymore, does it?

Again, we aren’t in Toronto this year, but we’ll keep collecting the festival’s goings on as it happens.  So stay tuned.

[Photo: Focus Features]

→ 10 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

10 responses so far

  • 1 9-10-2010 at 8:22 pm

    reuben said...

    Aw man… I was really looking forward to this. Probably’ll give this a Netflix, ’cause there seems to be more than enough to tide me over for the rest of the year.

  • 2 9-10-2010 at 9:33 pm

    Matthew Lingo said...


  • 3 9-10-2010 at 9:38 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    If it’s true, at least they made Sugar first. They could have easily done this after Half Nelson.

  • 4 9-10-2010 at 9:51 pm

    Kevin K. said...

    Yikes. I thought it would at least be charming, but these reviews are brutal. I always thought it looked rather cliche’ but yeesh. Oh well, guess I will save this one for rainy day netflix.

  • 5 9-11-2010 at 3:37 am

    the other mike said...

    “whats worse than a calculated sell-out”

    wow, do critics still use words like sell out? are Boden and Fleck expected to make the same type of film over and over again? Is Scorsese a sell out for doing studio movies in between more personal fare?

    some of these over thinking dweebs need to get over themselves. still looking forward to it

  • 6 9-11-2010 at 5:24 am

    Squirrelman said...

    Ehh I still wanna give this a chance. It looks decent.


    Avatar and HTTYG win the Persol 3D award at Venice.


  • 7 9-11-2010 at 7:35 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    No good film is a sell-out. But this sounds very worrying.

  • 8 9-11-2010 at 11:04 am

    Patryk said...

    Sounds like this can not be from the same folks who gave us “Half Nelson,” and “Sugar,” two of my favorites.

  • 9 9-14-2010 at 6:30 am

    Ligaya said...

    It took me this long to post because while the reviews by people I normally trust hurt my heart, like Kristopher’s, they also countered my experience at the premiere. So why so diametrically opposed now?

    The reviews I thought came closest were indiewire, slashfilm/collider & playlist. Then I read Kim Voynar’s review last night.

    Her review is spot on, and says everything I’d want to about the source material, Boden/Fleck’s handling of it, what adults consider trivial problems – teens & even younger children consider worth killing themselves, the effect of early annointment as “critical indie darlings” who then suffer the anger of those critics who feel betrayed with disappointment.

    I saw the film with a friend whose close family member was a teen suicide and asked if it made too light of the subject. The answer was no – it was a deadly serious subject, but sometimes you were so sad/depressed you had to laugh, like gallows humor.

    I don’t know how many of the critics who delighted in savaging Boden/Fleck know of psych wards first- or second-hand. I can say that the ward & patients in the movie weren’t that different from the ward I was in (my roommate also never left our room) – if exaggerated. There were, however, no acid-tripped Hassidic Jews, Bobbys, or adult Craigs/Noelles. I’m bipolar. Once, my psychiatrist recommended I commit myself voluntarily for a 72-hour observation. What nobody told me is once I signed myself in, only a doctor could sign me out – even though I thought it was my voluntary choice & I could leave when I wanted. My stay could also be extended w/o my consent. I learned many things during my stay – such as I never want to be in a situation again where I don’t have control over my freedom of movement, and structure really is good/helpful for me.

    I went to the premiere; if the audience response is anything to go by, and some comments on the scathing reviews are not plants by Focus Features – the movie will play well to the audience the SlashFilm/Collider video review calls teens/youth who are going through the same thing. And to those of us (I’m 57 y.o. woman) who remember going through the same thing, or are still going through something similar albeit from more mature experiences. And that’s a lot of people.

    Others don’t have to take my word for the positive response from the premiere audience: USA Today’s Claudia Puig talked about the enthusiastic “audience’s exuberant reaction to the film,” and how after the “rendition of ‘Under Pressure’ by Queen & David Bowie, the movie audience burst into applause.” [diametrically opposed to many critics description of their – my description – painfully writhing during the scene, it was that bad]

    Also (http://www.boiseweekly.com/Cobweb/archives/2010/09/12/tiff-its-kind-of-a-funny-story-and-it-is):

    “Thousands of first-nights roared with delight. It’s a delicate theme, but the audience, mostly 20-somethings, found great relevance in a story about coping with the 21st century.”

  • 10 9-14-2010 at 6:39 am

    Ligaya said...

    More signs that the film resonates with viewers, if not the critics who’ve been published so far (with the exception of Kim Voynar rates it yellow, and I think that’s what slashfilm/collider would also):

    This young blogger gave it A-: http://blogs.metrotimes.com/index.php/2010/09/toronto-international-film-festival-day-3/
    Another young blogger raved about it as well. http://www.thecoast.ca/HaliwoodInsider/archives/2010/09/11/tiff-day-02-the-worst-movie-of-the-festival.