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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.67%
Worth A Look: 2.22%
Average: 22.22%
Pretty Bad: 33.33%
Total Crap35.56%

5 reviews, 15 user ratings

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Running With Scissors
[] Buy posters from this movie
by William Goss

"One Flew Over The Finch's Nest"
2 stars

Just as awkwardly chuckle-inducing as 'The Grudge 2,' just as dramatically unrewarding as 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning,' and just in time for Halloween comes 'Running with Scissors,' a real horror show that depicts a young man’s attempt to grapple with domestic dysfunction during the seventies among eccentrics and any other freak pleading for year-end awards consideration.

Based on Augusten Burroughs’ popular 2002 memoir, the film follows the young man (Joseph Cross) as his alcoholic father (Alec Baldwin) leaves his ostentatious mother (Annette Bening). She in turn decides to unload Augusten upon her sketchy shrink, Dr. Finch (Brian Cox), whose family may just be even more maladjusted than his own.

One character remarks aloud, “Where would we be without our painful childhoods?” Whether or not Burroughs’ memoir maintains the same conceited air as that comment, writer/director Ryan Murphy (“Nip/Tuck”) does evoke an attitude more self-serving than deadpan, clumsily attempting to put the mental into this sentimental account by stringing together psychotic episodes and non-sequiturs with the occasional montage and a sampling of seventies hits strewn throughout. The few zingers and absurd moments that do work are few and far between, eliciting more of a knee-jerk laughter amidst the onslaught of lunacy.

Murphy consequently disregards anything resembling a cohesive tone or genuine resonance to prevent the dramatic scenes from bogging down the story and foil the somewhat smug and stubbornly silly ineffectiveness of some madcap moments later on. It seems more like the helmer insists on daring viewers to discredit the proceedings due to its basis in fact, and subsequent skepticism is hard to stifle. Making matters all the more arduous is an ensemble about as committed as its characters should be. Rarely should decent performances go ignored, but where a campier cast might reinforce Murphy’s notions, he instead employs actors solid enough to make one resent this batch of mixed nuts as any sensible being would.

As the primary voice of reason, Cross (Flags of Our Fathers) remains grounded when the irrational behavior of others grows irritating, although buying the then-nineteen actor as a fourteen-year-old, not to mention a protagonist sleeping with a man twenty years his senior (Joseph Fiennes), is tough when he doesn’t quite look or act the part. Bening’s portrayal of Augusten’s mother, in full liberated woman/feminist poet mode, is surely flamboyant enough to garner an awards nomination, yet hollow enough to not deserve one. However, the kindred spirits of her and Cox equally sell their out-of-touch characters to stubborn effect, while Fiennes and Jill Clayburgh (as Mrs. Finch) manage to be only mildly less psychotic, and as the Finch daughters, Gwyneth Paltrow and Evan Rachel Wood are just a notch down on the off-kilter chain. What a pity that Baldwin gets so few scenes, conveying the genuine weariness of years trapped with such a family while simultaneously telegraphing the very same fatigue that viewers are likely to suffer themselves mere reels later.

The overall experience reeks of a failed attempt at schadenfreude, with Murphy seemingly sharing Dr. Finch’s bowel-movement-as-Rorschach-test sensibility by having us stare at feces in hopes of gleaming some profundity out of this seriocomic blend of teen angst and retro kitsch. Afraid of enduring such schlock treatment? Do yourself a favor and run away. Just try not to trip over the child pinching a loaf in the corner behind the Christmas tree on your way out.

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originally posted: 10/27/06 00:32:14
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User Comments

1/24/10 art WEIRD MOVIE! 2 stars
12/11/07 art kind of make's you stop and think? 4 stars
2/15/07 Amy Typical suburban neurotic drama...overdone and dull. 3 stars
12/13/06 jdean62 LOVED IT ! Jill Clayburgh was amazing! Annette Was fantastic !! 5 stars
11/10/06 epstein I CAN'T BELIEVE I WASTED TIME AND $ TO SEE THIS 1 stars
11/08/06 Bob Strickland Disappointing 2 stars
11/06/06 Cutting With Feet Is SO such a word as "fullest". See: 1 stars
11/05/06 Asia McGuire Actors delivered fine, everything else was flat. 3 stars
11/04/06 wesley sniper Dude, there's no such word as "fullest" 1 stars
11/02/06 Gasper incohereent but entertining at parts, Fractured but put together well 3 stars
10/31/06 jcjs rivals 'Little Miss Sunshine' as my favorite this year..clever.great acting by all, Bening 5 stars
10/31/06 May Q. Horney Soundtrack CD not nearly as good as the Weird Al Yankovic version! 2 stars
10/31/06 Eric Johnson Freakin' loved it. 5 stars
10/27/06 Tiffany Losco Strange movie 3 stars
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  20-Oct-2006 (R)
  DVD: 06-Feb-2007



Directed by
  Ryan Murphy

Written by
  Ryan Murphy

  Annette Bening
  Brian Cox
  Joseph Fiennes
  Evan Rachel Wood
  Alec Baldwin
  Jill Clayburgh

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