Hello readers and happy Thursday to ya! Today I am going to try something new here on the blog and see how well it goes over. I love reading, obviously, but I love movies just as much. Movies based on books? Even better! I really like book movies so I am thinking that when possible, I am going to do book vs movie adaptation reviews when possible. To kick it off, I am staring off the party with the synopsis and author bio on Ned Vizzini's 2006 novel It's Kind of a Funny Story and then comparing it to the 2010 film!
It's Kind of a Funny Story (2006)
Before we start, here is a little info about the novel and the author, Ned Vizzini.
Like many ambitious New
York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan's Executive
Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to
succeed at life-which means getting into the right high school to get
into the right college to get the right job-Craig studies night and day
to ace the entrance exam, and does. That's when things start to get
crazy. At his new school, Craig realizes that he isn't brilliant
compared to the other kids; he's just average, and maybe not even that.
He soon sees his once-perfect future crumbling away. The stress becomes
unbearable and Craig stops eating and sleeping-until, one night, he
nearly kills himself. Craig's suicidal episode gets him checked into a
mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex
addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the
self-elected President Armelio. There, isolated from the crushing
pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the
sources of his anxiety. Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a
psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the
sometimes unexpected road to happiness. For a novel about depression,
it's definitely a funny story.
Top: Original 2006 release cover
Bottom: 2010 Re-released movie-tie-in edition cover
For the record, I read the bottom edition
Ned Vizzini is the award-winning author of It’s Kind of a Funny Story (also a major motion picture), Be More Chill, Teen Angst? Naaah..., and The Other Normals. In television, he has written for MTV and ABC. His essays and criticism have appeared in the New York Times, the Daily Beast, and Salon. He is the co-author, with Chris Columbus, of the forthcoming fantasy-adventure series House of Secrets (April 2013). His work has been translated into eight languages.
Okay. Now you know where we are here with the book and the movie. So here's my thoughts on the both of them:
Book vs. Film: My Thoughts
I am currently taking a break from my usual reads. I wanted to try something different, so I went to my team with a list of what exactly I wanted: different, not a romance, and written by a male author. This is one of the many works I was suggested. My initial reaction when seeing the synopsis was pretty positive, but by the time I had finished the book, well... I really didn't know what to think. Let me explain.
This was a very easy read, which I liked. The content was very... well... different? Okay. I guess I should just be blunt here. The book is about a 15 year old boy who spends 5 days in an adult psychiatric ward battling depression after having suicidal thoughts. Okay, simple enough. The point of the story is how Vizzini is supposed to perfectly capture the insight of the 15 year old male mind. He was at one point a 15 year old male, as was I, so you would think he would have it down right? No. I have never been to NYC, I live in a town of less that 3000 people and have no desire to live in NYC, but I highly doubt any parent would give their 15 year old son the freedom in NYC that Craig seems to have. Sure he is responsible and smart and stuff, but I don't understand how he gets away with all this stuff. So essentially my biggest issue was with Craig himself. His problems, in my opinion, are a direct result of his lifestyle. So he has school stress? Who doesn't? So he has girl problems? Who doesn't? I'm just saying that I don't see what the big deal was here. I totally understand stress and can honestly tell you that I have dealt with the horrible effects of helping a loved one cope with clinical depression, so I know it isn't anything to take lightly, but Craig just really didn't do it for me. I didn't feel sorry for him like I should, I guess. In fact, I found Craig to be a bit whiny.
I was never a "wild-child" and honestly, my mentality seems to be a whole lot like Craig's. Which really could have worked, EXCEPT the book spends every other page talking about Craig and his friends "chilling" (which means they smoked pot, religiously) and about his constant obsession with masturbation. I realize he is a 15 year old bot, but Jesus, get over it. I got so sick of reading the words "jerk-off" in this book that I almost stopped. It would have been funny, but the way I read it, it was as though Vizzini was mocking teenage males, much the way a female author would have written the part.
Like I said, I liked the storyline and I think the book had an absolutely amazing message, I just think there were other ways to get there. The other characters of the book were amazing, especially Noelle. Noelle is our love interest and is also in the hospital with Craig. She has self-inflicted numerous cuts to her face in her bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts. She is really a deep character with a whole lot of emotion and I LOVED her story. She really had issues. I wish there could have been some more Noelle story in the book. The "romance" was played off very nicely. Noelle was great, but the other "residents" of 6 North were just as interesting. I really enjoyed their characters.
Two characters I DID NOT LIKE were Aaron and Nia. I'm sorry, but again this goes back to my Craig problem. If yo have such awful friends, THEN FIND NEW FRIENDS. Jesus, this is why the kid has problems. Why does he keep trying to make it work and WHY does the book end with everyone making things work? No, no, no, no, and no. Seriously. His friends are losers, straight up losers. I'm just saying life as a 15 year old in NYC must be WAY different than life as one in the Midwest.
I know I sound like I was really down on the book, but overall I really did like the positive message and the storyline, I just think it could have used... well... more. I give it about a 3 star rating. Now the movie on the other hand is a different story:
I don't think I have ever said this about a book to film adaptation, but: THE MOVIE IS BETTER! No seriously. Much better. Everything I hated about the book is rectified in the movie. The casting was GREAT and totally spot on. Noelle (Emma Roberts [American Horror Story: Coven]) had a much larger part as well! It was the perfect length and everything. The brain maps were fun, the jokes were actually funny, seriously, I LOVED this movie. Obviously a whole bunch was cut out of the book to make the movie flow, but I liked it that way. Craig's friends and family played a limited role in the film, but all it did was reaffirm my views of Aaron and Nia (which were played by the AMAZING Thomas Mann [Beautiful Creatures/Project X] and Zoe Kravitz [X-Men: First Class/Divergent]. The actors did a wonderful job with their parts, but the movie did nothing to make me like their characters more.
The film took a fairly depressing novel and turned it into a Drama/Comedy. It was depressing and sad, but seriously, I laughed SO many times, which is rare for me. Also, the actor portraying Craig (Keir Gilchrist) did a great job with the character (who was 16 in the film, why change a year?)! Also Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) was given a much larger role than the book which was pretty cool. Overall, I loved the film and would rank it pretty high on my list, I just cannot believe I liked it better than the book, I don't think I've ever had that happen.
In conclusion, and this may be the ONLY time I ever say this: skip the read, go watch the movie. It's 90 minutes of great story and a few good laughs that will leave you warm and hopeful about the future of today's depressing teenage generation. Anyways, that's my spiel about It's Kind of a Funny Story. Like I said, I was neither here nor there for the book, but the film is a must watch. The story was really great for me to read for some personal reasons dealing with some demons I have been fighting lately so I am glad to have read it, but I don't know that I'd read it again, make sense? Oh well. You guys got it!
Until next time, Happy Reading!