"Running with Scissors"
Directed by Ryan Murphy (the "Nip/Tuck" guy!).
Written by Ryan Murphy. Based on the memoir by Augusten
Starring Joseph Cross, Annette Bening, Brian Cox and Alec
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 10/28/06
I generally like movies that are a little off-kilter, but "Running
with Scissors" is the kind of movie that seems to be weird for the
sake of it. Featuring a cast to die for and the creative mind
behind "Nip/Tuck", Ryan Murphy, I was excited to see this movie but
after watching it veer off in so many directions during my viewing
this afternoon, I'm left with a film that was truly a grab bag of
comedy, drama, and "other."
Joseph Cross stars as Augusten Burroughs, son of an initially
neurotic (later, this changes to psychotic) poet named Deirdre
(Annette Bening). Augusten, about 13 years old when the plot
of the film really gets moving, knows that he likes men and that he
wants to be a hairdresser--scratch that, a "cosmetologist"--but
beyond that, he doesn't have any idea where he is going to end up,
as long as he can survive his adolescence. See, his dad (Alec
Baldwin) is an alcoholic, and when his parents separate, he's left
with his mother, who promptly signs him over to the family's shrink,
Dr. Finch (Brian Cox, who I'm hoping gets an Oscar nod over his work
in this flick). Dr. Finch--who calmly informs Deirdre during a
session that the room off of his main office is where he normally
jerks off, his "Masturbatorium"--has an even stranger set of
circumstances, living in what might be Willy Wonka's vacation home
in the suburbs, a strange contraption where he lives with his wife
and two daughters Hope (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Natalie (Evan Rachel
Wood, still waiting to play a normal character in a film).
Augusten hasn't gone to school in years, so his influence is now
solely based on the Finch family and his new gay 35-year-old
schizophrenic lover, Neil (Joseph Fiennes). How will
Augusten's life ever improve?
As you can tell, "Running with Scissors" preys on the ridiculous and
embraces the insane throughout its running time. Its comedy is
so over the top that you don't even know what to do with it
sometimes; all of the characters have strange sides to them, so it's
only a question of when those oddities will collide. So, bits
like the Masturbatorium will get laughs; a scene of characters
debating a piece of shit in the toilet and what it means about Jesus
might not. The idea that a 35-year-old guy is banging a boy 20
years his junior might be a little weird for some audience members,
especially since here, it's played mainly for laughs. The film
just kind of lays it all out there, and sometimes it works, while in
many other situations, it falls flat.
That leaves you, over the course of two hours, kind of on the fence
about the whole affair; some folks walked out of my theater
three-quarters of the way through, and others were heard murmuring
things like "that was awful" as I was strolling out of the theater.
It kind of reminds you about anything that Charlie Kaufman ("Being
"Adaptation.") has touched...weird for the sake of it has a
specific audience, and you just might not be it. You have been
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard