out of Five
Running time: 116
Running With Scissors has a great cast and an appropriately chaotic nature, but it never really adds up to anything and fails to hit its emotional targets.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy (who clearly knows a thing or two about dysfunctional families), Running With Scissors is based on the autobiographical memoir of Augusten Burroughs, played by Joseph Cross. When Augusten's mother (Annette
Bening) cracks up under the strain of her marriage to his alcoholic, emotionally distant father (Alec Baldwin), she starts seeing wacky psychologist Doctor Finch (Brian Cox), who soon decides that the best place for Augusten is under his care.
Sure enough, Augusten finds himself sharing a large house with Finch's equally bonkers family including wild child Natalie (Evan Rachel Wood), weirdo Hope (Gwyneth Paltrow) and beatnik gay son Neil (Joseph Fiennes).
It's a treat to see Gwyneth Paltrow on screen again (make more films,
Gwyneth!) and Cox is as hilarious as he always is. Joseph Fiennes gives his best performance to date as Neil and Joseph Cross comfortably holds his own amongst the big hitters. There's also strong support from Wood, Baldwin and particularly Annette Bening.
Unfortunately, although the dialogue is witty and clever, the film is far too long and the most interesting characters spend too much time off-screen. Similarly, the film's appropriately chaotic structure disguises the fact that there's not much in the way of actual plot.
However, the biggest problem is that none of the characters (Augusten
included) are all that sympathetic, so it's difficult to engage with them emotionally and you end up wanting to give most of them a slap.
The result is that all of the supposedly moving emotional set-pieces fall horribly flat.
Murphy has assembled a superb cast but he fails to do anything really interesting with their quirky characters and they outstay their welcome well before the two hours are up. Disappointing.
Running With Scissors (15)