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Review: Running with Scissors

A pity party that makes flip and calculated light of everything from sexual discovery, religion, insanity, recovery, you name it.

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Running with Scissors
Photo: TriStar Pictures

Punishingly snide and unfunny, Running with Scissors, the story of a pubescent queer boy sent to live at a zany psychologist’s house after his parents divorce and his mother goes nuts, is a hissy fit of gargantuan self-involvement. Writer-director Ryan Murphy, adapting from the popular Augusten Burroughs memoir of the same name, has raided the Tenenbaum manse, swapping poetry for derision and flesh-and-blood people for Igby Goes Down Type-A cardboard assholes. Pitched for two hours at the histrionic pitch of Magnolia’s Aimee Mann Super Montage, this is among the most loathsome films of the year, something of a Hollywood facsimile of Tideland, only Terry Gilliam’s gothic upchuck was not so dense as to make any pretense to reality. Though Murphy’s vision is equally uncompromised, if it came with a label it might read: 100% Snigger, From Concentrate. A sample strain of this shrill and surprisingly unfeeling film’s humor: After Gwenyth Paltrow’s religious zealot states that she unearthed her dead kitty and made him into a stew her sister (Evan Rachel Wood) has just finished tasting, Joseph Fiennes, whose character is gay, screams, “I don’t eat pussy!” A pity party that makes flip and calculated light of everything from sexual discovery, religion, insanity, recovery, you name it, Running with Scissors attacks its audience like some mental patient running at you with, well, a pair of shears—and given the intensity with which its characters flail around (not just for their pleasure but, in Annette Bening’s case, for Oscar validation) you may want to look away from the screen or risk losing an eye.

Cast: Annette Bening, Gwyenth Paltrow, Jill Clayburgh, Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes, Evan Rachel Wood, Alec Baldwin, Joseph Cross Director: Ryan Murphy Screenwriter: Ryan Murphy Distributor: TriStar Pictures Running Time: 122 min Rating: R Year: 2006 Buy: Video, Soundtrack, Book

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