Dave's Rating:

2.5

… funny throughout …

Who's in It: Joseph Cross, Annette Bening, Brian Cox, Evan Rachel Wood, Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Jill Clayburgh, Alec Baldwin, Gabrielle Union, Patrick Wilson

The Basics: Augusten Burroughs wrote a deadpan memoir about growing up surrounded by mentally ill people — his mother gave him away to her wildly irresponsible shrink — and this is the truncated, all-star, Cliff's Notes film version.

What's the Deal? Welcome to "Crazy's Greatest Hits." It's as though director Ryan Murphy took every cracked, grotesque incident from the book and just made sure one of them happened every other minute or so and padded the rest with filler of people being sad or upset. It's funny throughout, but you never get to rest between moments of people making stew out of the family cat or the hip pedophile making 14-year-old Burroughs his boyfriend.

Whose Movie Is It, Anyway? Bening, as Burroughs' messed-up mom, is a symphony of glazed-over expression, wild frenzy, far-out 1970s caftans and Tab. And even though the movie is supposed to be about the kid, she steamrolls through every scene she's in.

Sometimes Silence Trumps Screaming: Watch Clayburgh as the beaten-down wife of psychiatrist Cox as she mutely eats dog food, watches Dark Shadows and obeys her awful husband even when it means building a shrine to his bowel movements. Yes, that actually happens. Anyway, her performance is all blank sadness and empty expression, and she's the most interesting person here.

What Else Is Wrong With It: Pop music cues standing in for narrative. Because wouldn't the opening piano bit from "Year of the Cat" sound really awesome here? And too much disjointed yelling and clawing and bawling.

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