Review: Running With Scissors
Joseph Cross plays Augusten Burroughs, a 14 year-old aspiring writer in the counterculture 70s who must contend with an alcoholic and distant father (Alec Baldwin, making lemonade out of lemons) who walks out after years of being constantly beaten down by his overbearing, self-absorbed, and emotionally unstable wife Annette Bening, a poet of questionable talent. Bening’s deteriorating mental health results in her taking some time out from her life and her son, and placing him in the care of her shrink Brian Cox and his family. But Cox is no ordinary shrink (he’s seemingly obsessed with masturbation and his own faecal matter), and his family are even screwier than he is. They include near-catatonic wife Jill Clayburgh, religious nut Gwyneth Paltrow, and two almost normal-seeming people Augusten somewhat befriends; an unrecognisable (and surprisingly OK) Joseph Fiennes as the ex-communicated gay son and Evan Rachel Wood’s rebellious teen. Kristen Chenoweth plays the same dopey, unbelievably nauseating bimbo she always does, and Gabrielle Union portrays arguably the hottest lesbian ever. I’m talking of All-Time, folks.
Fans of Wes Anderson’s quirky-for-the-sake-of-it black comedies like “The Royal Tenenbaums” might get something out of this similarly skewed 2006 Ryan Murphy (TV’s “Nip/Tuck” and “Glee”) film, from the book by Augusten Burroughs. I hated “Tenenbaums” and could never latch on to this self-consciously oddball, and sometimes depressing film.
Cox is very funny, and Baldwin does well in an unfortunately small role- in fact Bening’s performance cannot be faulted either. Paltrow’s can, however. She’s awful, and as she has proven on “SNL”, girlfriend just ain’t funny! The characters are unconvincing and totally unlikeable (WTF was up with Clayburgh’s character? She’s given a thankless role, poor woman should’ve sued Murphy for defamation!), and although the film is based on the memoirs of Augusten Burroughs, the film never seemed to take place on planet Earth, as far as I was concerned. These weren’t characters, they were eccentrics and lunatics.
There’s an audience for this, I’m not it. I just didn’t get it, and frankly, I didn’t want to, either (***SPOILER WARNING*** Especially when grown-up Fiennes’ character begins a sexual relationship with underage Cross! What’s up with that? Isn’t that sorta kinda wrong? ***END SPOILER***). No…this wasn’t for me. At all.