RUNNING WITH SCISSORS
Teach Your Children Well
Starring: Joseph Cross, Annette Benning,
Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes,
Jill Clayburgh, Alec Baldwin,
Evan Rachel Wood, Gwyneth
Paltrow, and Gabrielle Union
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 121 minutes
Distributor: TriStar Pictures/Sony Pictures
Director: Ryan Murphy
Executive Producer: Steven Samuels
Producer: Brad Pitt, Ryan Murphy, Brad
Grey, Dede Gardner, and Matt
Writer: Ryan Murphy
Address Comments To:Michael Lynton, Chairman/CEO
Amy Pascal, Chairman - Motion Picture Group
Sony Pictures Entertainment
(Columbia Pictures/MGM/TriStar/Screen Gems)
10202 West Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232-3195
Phone: (310) 244-4000
Fax: (310) 244-2626
Web Page: www.spe.sony.com/
The movie opens with Augusten’s crazy mother using him as an audience for one of her poems. Deirdre desperately wants to become a famous poet, but the goal always eludes her. Augusten's father, Norman, is an alcoholic, and his parents get into terrible fights. Deirdre, a manic depressive, forces Norman to go to marriage counseling with a pompous, but certifiable, psychotherapist, Dr. Finch. Dr. Finch drives Norman away by making impossible demands on the couple. He says they need five hours a day of counseling.
After she divorces Norman, Deirdre goes to Finch's Victorian house for her analysis, because Dr. Finch has had to give up his office due to tax problems. She drags Augusten, now about 13, along. The inside of the house is almost a total mess. Everyone in it seems crazy, including Dr. Finch's two daughters, Hope and Natalie, and his mousy wife, Agnes.
Suddenly, it becomes clear that Dr. Finch has drugged Deirdre into a stupor. He convinces her to let him adopt Augusten so she can live her own life. The decision devastates Augusten, who tries to cope as best he can. One of the ways he copes is by getting sexually involved with Neil Bookman, a 30-year-old patient of Dr. Finch's who lives in the garage out back. Further adventures with the Finch family, Neil and his mother follow.
RUNNING WITH SCISSORS tells an incredibly sad tale. At one point, Augusten yells desperately that he'd like to have a normal life, with rules and boundaries, and normal parents. This is a major positive message in the movie, but it gets lost because of the movie's satirical, comic tone. Adding to this tone are popular, upbeat rock tunes and ballads, including a couple songs sung by Nat King Cole, played loudly. Ultimately, though the movie might deserve some points for trying something new, the story and characters don’t quite work as a whole. The characters, situations and tone are just too bizarre, though often entertaining and sometimes absorbing. Also, Augusten is too much of a blank slate and too young and powerless to compel viewer interest. It seems a disservice to his agony to make so many of the movie’s scenes so flippant and hip. Despite this, several sequences and many acting moments stand out in the movie.
RUNNING WITH SCISSORS is not in-your-face politically correct. For example, Augusten’s mother comes across as a shrill feminist with almost insurmountable psychological, moral and spiritual problems. Even so, the movie avoids making any moral judgments against the pedophile relationship between Augusten and Neil, or Augusten’s homosexual inclinations. Yet, it does seem to make moral judgments against Augusten’s mother and Dr. Finch’s manipulation of his patients for personal gain. Although Augusten apparently was indeed sexually abused repeatedly as a young boy by an older man, there is no excuse not to treat such abuse in anything other than utter contempt.
Be that as it may, the broad moviegoing audience most likely will be turned off by this quirky comedy with its lack of moral outrage about the bizarre, immoral behavior of these characters.
RUNNING WITH SCISSORS tells an incredibly sad tale. The movie is not overtly politically correct, but it avoids making any moral judgments against the pedophile relationship between Augusten and Neil, or Augusten’s homosexual inclinations. It does appear to make moral judgments about Augusten’s crazy feminist mother and Dr. Finch’s manipulation of his patients for personal gain. The broad moviegoing audience most likely will be turned off by this quirky comedy with its lack of moral outrage about bizarre, immoral behavior.