'Running with Scissors': great acting, outrageous story | The Moviegoer

Sunday, October 15, 2006

'Running with Scissors': great acting, outrageous story

Posted By on Sun, Oct 15, 2006 at 9:58 AM

Says Hollywood Reporter,

Necessarily episodic in its structure, the film wallows in the darkly comic absurdities of the story, resulting in many undeniably funny but less than convincing scenes. Indeed, the sheer absurdity of what is being presented onscreen, despite being related as a true story, seems so utterly over the top that it's hard not to make parallels with the recent controversies over the truth of various memoirs.

The excellent performers cope well with their characters' excesses. Bening, playing a polar opposite of her "American Beauty" housewife, delivers a beautifully modulated and daring turn that well conveys her character's vulnerability as well as her disturbance. Cox pulls out all the stops as the outrageous doctor to great comic effect; Baldwin, reaffirming his recent status as one of our funniest comic actors, underplays hilariously; Wood is sexy and entertainingly loopy; Clayburgh, made to look grotesque, has at least one very affecting scene toward the end; and Paltrow and Fiennes, reuniting after "Shakespeare in Love," are very effective with their relatively briefer turns.

Says Variety,

The royally screwed-up adolescence of Augusten Burroughs has made it to the bigscreen with several nips, tucks and a noticeably duller edge in "Running With Scissors." Writer-director Ryan Murphy strives mightily to capture the bracing hilarity, pathos and surreal incident of Burroughs' bestselling memoir, but this rudderless adaptation never gets a firm grip on the author's deadpan tone or episodic narrative style. With critical attention likely to focus less on the film than the strong individual performances, specifically Annette Bening's monstrously entertaining turn as Burroughs' mother, Sony may have difficulty luring niche audiences beyond the book's estimable readership.

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