Fast-Paised review: 'Running with Scissors'

FamilyMoviesEntertainmentJill ClayburghJoseph FiennesBrian CoxAlec Baldwin

Augusten Burroughs (Joseph Cross) is dumped off by his parents (Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin) at the home of Augusten's mother's shrink (Brian Cox) and his oddball family (Evan Rachel Wood, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jill Clayburgh). Angst ensues.

Big question: Can writer-director Ryan Murphy's adaptation of Burroughs' memoir feel real--even though in the movie Burroughs says he doesn't think people will believe him anyway?

Skip it: Bening doesn't do anything she didn't already in "American Beauty;" Paltrow is woefully miscast as a lonely, cat-obsessed shut-in; even the excellent Wood seems to be repeating herself. The bigger problems are that Mama Burroughs dominates the film, Augusten is too blank to reveal the impact that his experiences have on him, and the movie's attempts to draw humor out of dysfunction are unfunny and obnoxious.

Catch it: For two scenes of true rage release: one in which Augusten and Natalie (Wood) impersonate their parents, and another that shows Augusten's boyfriend (Joseph Fiennes) reading a poem that really breaks down the dam of his childhood trauma.

Bottom line: Burroughs spends most of "Running with Scissors" as a supporting character in his own life; comparatively, he's the normal one of the bunch, but that realization never seems to cut through the malaise. There can be good movies about family dysfunction, but let's quit the moaning about wanting to be "normal."

Bonus: Do you, like Dr. Finch, have a room you call the "Masturbatorium"? Hopefully yours has better pictures than a shot of the Queen of England!

Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.

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'Running with Scissors'

Directed by Ryan Murphy; screenplay by Murphy, based on the memoir by Augusten Burroughs; cinematography by Christopher Baffa; edited by Byron Smith; production design by Richard Sherman; music by James S. Levine; produced by Murphy, Dede Gardner, Brad Grey and Brad Pitt. A TriStar Pictures release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:56. MPAA rating: R (for strong language and elements of sexuality, violence and substance abuse).

Deirdre - Annette Bening

Dr. Finch - Brian Cox

Neil - Joseph Fiennes

Natalie - Evan Rachel Wood

Hope - Gwyneth Paltrow

Agnes - Jill Clayburgh

Augusten - Joseph Cross

Norman - Alec Baldwin
.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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