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Running With Scissors Review Critics


Dave White Profile

… funny throughout … Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Running With Scissors lacks the edge of Augusten Burroughs' best-selling memoir. The result is an inconsistent tragicomedy that attempts to be cut from the same darkly humorous cloth as "American Beauty," but fails.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Watching Running With Scissors the movie instead of reading Running With Scissors the best-selling memoir by Augusten Burroughs is like running with a spatula, or maybe some weird toast tongs.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal

    Ms. Bening takes her part and acts it all over the place, while Ms. Paltrow and Ms. Wood do their best theater of the absurd. It is left to Ms. Clayburgh, in a performance free of vanity and artifice, to find the movie's heart.

  • 60

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Frank Scheck

    Too outlandish to be fully convincing, this adaptation of the best-selling memoir sacrifices subtlety for broad laughs.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Dysfunctional-family memoir wallows in smug humor.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this film isn't for kids. It's based on the true story of author Augusten Burroughs' extremely dysfunctional childhood (his manic mother handed him over to her therapist) and runs the gamut of bizarre, often-crazy behavior. Characters smoke, drink, use drugs, receive very questionable psychiatric treatment, and discuss suicide (in one scene, a boy is outfitted with electroshock therapy gear, though he's not shocked). The film includes frequent arguments between family members, with yelling, crying, and occasional aggression (including a knife threat at one point). Sexual images include lesbians kissing and hugging and an affair between a teenage boy and a 35-year-old man (who ends up being his adoptive brother). Lots of profanity, especially "f--k."

  • Families can talk about Augsten's difficult relationship with his mother. How does he come to eventually understand her behavior? How does the movie show that he has to leave her to survive, even though the separation is painful for both of them? What about Augusten's relationship with Neil? Is it abusive, tender and loving, or both? Does Augusten (the "victim") truly understand the nature of their relationship? How does his perspective of Neil change over time? Why? How is the "therapy" that Deirdre and Augusten receive from Dr. Finch bogus, detrimental, and dangerous? If you were in Augusten's position, how do you think you would have coped?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Damaged, miserable adults raise damaged, frustrated, frightened (in one case, nearly homicidal) children; affair between a 35-year-old and a teenager; medication as a means to "cope" depression and manic behavior; mother's crazed behavior frightens her son; reverence/reading of bowel movements as a sign from God. The central teenage characters have no good role models to follow and no limits placed on their behavior -- they do whatever they want without consequences (like tear down the kitchen ceiling on a whim).

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: A woman slams her husband against a cupboard, and he falls to the floor, his head bloodied; discussions of suicide and electroshock therapy; an adopted adult son explodes in father's office, ripping and slamming furniture, then approaches his adoptive father with a knife.

  • sex false5

    Sex: Dr. Finch keeps a "Masturbatorium" in his office; sexual activity between a 14-year-old boy and his 35-year-old male lover (some skin visible, not explicit); mention of penis/flasher; language ("Don't touch my sausage," "I don't eat p---y").

  • language false5

    Language: Casual, frequent, and angry use of profanity, including "f--k" (20+); fewer instances of "s--t," "bitch," "c--t."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Mentions or brief glimpses of time period-defining products like Sanka, Tab, McDonalds; Dark Shadows on television.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false5

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Frequent cigarette smoking (by teens and adults); doctor dispenses pills randomly to "quiet the nerves" lots of drinking.