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Running With Scissors

Drama movie directed by Ryan Murphy

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Reviewed: Running With Scissors [2006]

  • Jul 23, 2011
15 - 116mins - Comedy/Drama - 2nd February 2007

Strange one this. Augusten Burroughs (Joseph Cross) was born into a dysfunctional family. With his father (Alec Baldwin) an alcoholic and a mentally unstable mother (Annette Bening) who lives in a delusional world where her belief that she has what it takes to become the world's greatest poet is only surpassed by her attempts to achieve her goal, it's unsurprising to find that his life has been impacted greatly from a young age.

As he grows into a teenager, his mother signs him away into the custody of her shrink, Dr. Finch (Brian Cox) an equally eccentric man who it seems treats his children as more of an experiment than an actual family. From here it seems that instead of normality, Augusten has leapt from the proverbial frying pan into a immensely large fire. He befriends the two daughters, Hope (Gwyneth Paltrow) and in particular Natalie (Evan Rachel Wood) as well as Neil (Joseph Fiennes) the most damaged of all of Finch's children.

If I'm honest, I'm not sure exactly what to make of this film. Is seems intentionally set out to confuse the viewer but then deals with some serious topics amongst all of this. Each individual character is damaged and has serious character flaws that need to be addressed, some more than others. Although I have never read the book of the same name, I hear it sticks to the content closely and is all based on the real life events (I'm assuming more in part than in full) of Augustun Despite this, because of it's tendency to be so random and with so many things going on it is hard to ground yourself and actually believe that these are real people and not just extreme characters. This made it hard to relate with the characters.

Black comedies of this nature can be rather subjective to the viewer and this will be one of those films that will split the general populous. It's even fighting a battle in my own mind as write this trying to work it out. I was a fan of the comedy that throws you from one topic to another while the characters remain completely serious, talk about deeply emotional feelings and yet still manage to draw laughs at the same time. For that alone the script and direction have to be commended.

The performances of Benning and Cross also deserve a mention. Benning truly seems engulfed in her own world as she struggles to cope with herself let alone the environment around her and the casting of Benning worked in my eyes as he struggles to better understand himself.

I suppose that if I had to summarise the plot I would call it as a coming of age story albeit a rather warped one. I think the movies tagline says it best- he's looking forward to a memory he won't have to suppress and although the film leaves you asking more questions than it answers, something I can't quite put my finger on made me enjoy it. Not so much that I want to watch it again next week but give it a year or so and I'm sure I will want another dose of Augusten Burroughs and his alternative life.

Rating: C+

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More Running With Scissors reviews
review by . August 17, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
* out of ****    At the age of twelve, Augusten Burroughs found himself the sole child in the middle of a rough marriage. His father (Alec Baldwin) - an alcoholic - and his mother Deidre (Annette Bening) - a psychotic - fought constantly and eventually their kitchen-bound warfare of both the physical and emotional variety got so intense that Burroughs' mother sent him to live with her psychiatrist, Dr. Finch (Brian Cox); a good doctor, according to Deidre. The Finch house is …
review by . April 22, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
...they'll seem like the poster children for mental and emotional health, after watching this film!      Augusten Burroughs (Joseph Cross) grows up in a household with his mother, Deirdre (Annette Benning), who has severe mental stability issues. I am no psychiatrist so I am not even going to try to label her. He also has an alcoholic father, Norman (Alec Baldwin), who seems to have little to no interest in his son. In fact, because of his absence, I thought at the beginning …
review by . February 08, 2007
For those legions of us who delighted in Augusten Burroughs' sharing of his exceedingly warped childhood in the memoir RUNNING WITH SCISSORS, this book to film transformation will be revelatory and extremely satisfying. Until watching the DVD (not expecting a book of this nature could be successfully molded into a film, much less be a platform for Annette Bening to garner Golden Globe accolades for a role like Deirdre), it is impossible to believe that such a fine book could and is an even better …
review by . April 15, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Like others, I decided to see "Running With Scissors" based on a trailer I saw that presented it as a dark, eccentric comedy. The cast looked more than promising, and I love quirky movies, but I shut this one off after watching an hour of venom-filled yelling and swearing. It's very unusual for me to not watch a film in its entirety, but I felt I was completely wasting my time and turned it off. I didn't like any of the characters, although I felt some degree of sympathy for the boy (not enough …
review by . February 22, 2007
"Running With Scissors"    A Twisted Childhood      Amos Lassen and Cinema Pride    "Running With Scissors" has been a greatly anticipated movie due to the success of the book and it doesn't disappoint. It is a fairly sick and twisted story of a young boy who is caught up in the mental abuse, drug use and mental illness in his family. Because it is a true story, it is sometimes not easy to watch but it is the story of survival …
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James ()
Ranked #190
I, like so many others, am a film lover with my own blog. Feel free to drop on by and have a read.      Website:http://www.fanaticalaboutfilms.com      Site Twitter: … more
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Annette Bening is the stand-out highlight in this dysfunctional "family" comedy based on the bestselling memoir by Augusten Burroughs. Although fans of the book may be slightly disappointed with the film's uneven and somewhat campy rendition of Burroughs' twisted adolescence in the 1970s, there's plenty of pleasure to be found in the work of an excellent cast led by Bening, who gives a subtle dare-to-hate-me performance as Burroughs' mother Diedre, a would-be poet who's so aloof about her teenage son Augusten (played by fresh-faced newcomer Joseph Cross, fromFlags of Our Fathers) that she allows him to be legally adopted into the eccentric family of her psychiatrist, Dr. Finch (Brian Cox). As the half-crazed Finch overmedicates Diedre into a haze of semi-conscious madness, he also turns Augusten's life upside down while his wife (Jill Clayburgh) and daughters (Gwyneth Paltrow, Evan Rachel Wood) indulge their own eccentricities and Augusten enters into an intimate relationship with one of Finch's adopted patients (played by Joseph Fiennes).

As adapted and directed by Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy, Running with Scissors lacks the singular voice of Burroughs' dryly comedic first-person narrative, but even as the film struggles to find a consistent tone, it's so full of wacky behavior that you can't help laughing. It's a messy, patchwork quilt of a movie, blessed by authentically garish '70s production design and a soundtrack of familiar '70s hits. In ...

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Director: Ryan Murphy
Genre: Drama
DVD Release Date: February 6, 2007
Runtime: 116 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
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