The Films of Ryan Murphy
Running with Scissors (October 19/06)
Inspired by Augusten Burroughs' autobiography, Running with Scissors strikes all the wrong notes virtually from the get-go. First-time director Ryan Murphy - who also wrote the film's screenplay - infuses the proceedings with a distinctly over-the-top sensibility, eschewing anything even resembling authenticity in favor of an unreasonably colorful sort of vibe. Everything within the film - from the performances to the dialogue to the sets - has been painted with extremely broad strokes, with the end result a piece of work that's flat-out interminable for the bulk of its overlong running time. Running with Scissors details the seriously off-kilter upbringing of Augusten Burroughs (Joseph Cross), who finds himself subjected to a series of increasingly cruel episodes as the movie progresses (the majority of which come courtesy of his monumentally insane mother, played by Annette Bening). The majority of the movie consists of unpleasant people doing unpleasant things, with talented folks like Alec Baldwin, Brian Cox, and Gwyneth Paltrow trapped within the confines of absurdly one-note characters. And although purportedly based on fact, Running with Scissors is - more often than not - about as plausible as a typical Bugs Bunny cartoon (the film's central family, led by Cox's Dr. Finch, almost makes the murderous clan from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre look normal). In the end, Running with Scissors comes off as nothing less than a colossal misfire - one that's unlikely even to appeal to fans of Burroughs' novel.
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