RUNNING WITH SCISSORS (Ryan Murphy). 113 minutes. Opens Friday (October 20). For venues and times, see Movies, page 98. Rating: NN Rating: NN
When we first see young Augusten, he's doing his mom's hair. It's the early 70s, and Mom (Annette Bening) is a big old drama queen, so the question isn't so much what kind of drama the film is going to be as just how gay the kid will grow up to be. Hairdresser gay? Choreographer gay? Liberace gay?
TV director Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck) has turned Running With Scissors - based on Augusten Burroughs's bestselling memoir about growing up in a house without rules after his mother dumps him with her therapist (Brian Cox) - into a festival of quirkiness. Every character, no matter how small, gets a precious little Oscar clip of character business.
It's a fun cast - Gwyneth Paltrow, Evan Rachel Wood, Joseph Fiennes, Alec Baldwin as Augusten's bedevilled dad - but Murphy, who also wrote the script, is so busy giving us flamboyant character bits that he neglects the central story, and it's never clear exactly how old Augusten is supposed to be when he launches into his affair with a man in his 30s.
Read the book. That detail's a bit of a shocker when you see it in cold print.