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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 Scissorslacks 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 rendering Burroughs' indelible portrait of weak, irresponsible adults and the people they victimize, Murphy and his well-chosen cast (which also includes Alec Baldwin as Diedre's ex-husband) find moments of touching pathos amidst the madness. For her part, Bening delivers an acclaimed performance that gives the film a dramatic weight it otherwise lacks. The rest is for anyone who enjoys a laugh at the freak-show expense of damaged and damaging characters. --Jeff Shannon
Stills fromRunning with Scissors(click for larger image)
Perfect companion to the book! Dark comedies are the best! This was a response to someone else's review, but I felt more people need to hear another view on the movie.
I have been a BIG Burroughs fan and have been long-awaiting this movie release. I do agree that it was not what I was expecting and I missed a lot, but it was a great movie nonetheless. Its one of those movies that makes you want to read the book, and I'm planning to re-read the book after seeing the movie again. I think it is a companion to the book. The book struck me as hilarious and witty, and then the movie was more dark - but its all in the interpretation - and both sides need to be seen. Augusten ok'd the movie, so obviously he felt it was done right.
Also, there were some legal issues that came up after the release of his book. The "Finch" family was a big part, and may have had something to do with them being cut a little more than the rest of us expected. As for Hope (Paltrow), she was not wasted, it made her character even more loveable. Have you not seen "The Royal Tennenbaums?" It was a brilliant cast of everyone and I enjoyed the movie immensely.
Again, and I can't stress it enough, everyone who sees this movie needs to read the book. As well as "Dry", and even "Magical Thinking" (which reiterates a lot from the earlier books but also fills in gaps), and "Possible Side Effects." While you're at it, read "Sellevision," which is his attempt at fiction (which really wasn't bad at all) and will be his next movie. I love this man! Such an amazing person!
"I think that hole in the ceiling brings a much needed sense of humor to the kitchen" I have seen this film twice this week. It is one of the most pointed, moving, blackly funny, and fierce family dysfunction stories I have ever seen. Based upon the childhood memoirs of Augusten Burroughs (brilliantly played by Joseph Cross), a 14 year old who suffers the wrath of almost every caretaker in his life. Annette Bening, just nominated for a Golden Globe for this performance and I hope the Oscar in later months, is dazzling and hypnotic and I think gives a more accomplished performance here than she did in "American Beauty" which is saying a lot. Also features a fabulous comeback performance by Jill Clayburgh, and an unrecognizable, hysterical performance by Joseph Fiennes. I would jump into a plot description, but I think it is best to go in fresh. It must also be said that Alec Baldwin gives the best performance of his career as Augusten's alcoholic father. I strongly recommend this film for anyone who thinks their childhood was rough. You might rethink that after seeing this. This is a brilliant movie, worthy of every award consideration.Freaking Hilarious!!! This movie was the funniest movie I have seen in a long time. I was somewhat shocked by the poop, homosexual sex and the rest but the thing is I know people are all different in their own ways in real life. People do crazy, unspeakable things, they just dont usually tell anyone about it or make a movie about it for all to see. That is what I love about the movie. In my opinion it is entirely unpredictable and original and AMAZINGLY HILARIOUS. I didn't read the book but I went to the theater with a bunch of people who did. They said they skipped some parts in the movie and that I should read the book to get the full effect. Nevertheless, I loved IT!