Running With Scissors DVD: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

An interesting film that isn't as drab as it may appear.
  • OVERALL
    3.0
    WORTHY
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
An interesting film that isn't as drab as it may appear.
THE BAD
No commentary track from Augusten Burroughs.
THE FEATURE
In the interesting and evocative Running with Scissors, viewers are treated to Augusten Burrough's big screen memoir of the book by the same name. With a crazy mother (Annette Bening) and an alcoholic father (Alec Baldwin), Augusten Burroughs (Joseph Cross) is soon left in the care of Dr. Finch (Brian Cox) the family therapist. As if his life couldn't get any more bizarre, Augusten has got to contend with Dr. Finch's older daughter Hope (Gwyneth Paltrow), who gives new meaning to the term nuts.

Helping Augusten cope with all of this upheaval is Finch's adopted daughter Natalie (Evan Rachel Wood) and the therapists different, but kind, wife Agnes (Jill Clayburgh). Running with Scissors is a very shrewd film. It presents the agony of childhood in a comic way, but Augusten's world is so maligned it is hard to believe that anybody could have survived it. One of Augusten's biggest inspirations is Neil (Joseph Fiennes), a man who helps Augusten love in spite of his situation and himself.
THE EXTRAS
Inside Outsiders

This is a "making of" in which almost everyone involved in the making of this movie chimes in about it's themes and ideas. The actors talk about their characters, the story, and it's great to hear from people like Brian Cox and Annette Bening who are such fine actors. Director Ryan Murphy muses on the humanity he tried to bring to this story and the characters, and we see all this footage mixed around with a lot of footage from the actual production.

Creating the Cuckoo's Next

A Personal Memoir by Augusten Burroughs

Augusten Burroughs is the main person featured here as he talks about writing the book Running With Scissors, and how the ultimate message it is putting across is one of survival. He discusses not wanting to option the book but after one meeting with director Ryan Murphy he realized that he was the person to make this film. He talks about his past, his "threshold for eccentricity," and his fear of ever going back to the life that has been depicted in the book and on the big screen.
THE VIDEO
2.40:1 - Aspect Ratio. Ryan Murphy has made a very full looking film. In fact, none of the scenes are wasted. There is always something happening in the foreground, the middle ground, and the background. Even if all it is is just static objects, the surrounding areas are filled. Dr. Finch's home aka the Cuckoo's Nest is so cinematically put together it is astounding. This all makes for a very well composed DVD watching experience.
THE AUDIO
Dolby Digital. Mastered in High Definition. Languages - English, Spanish, Portuguese 5.1 (Dolby Digital) and French (Dolby Surround). Subtitles - English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Korean. The sound in this film was good but there wasn't anything about it that I felt called for some amazing mix. This is a movie that is highly dependent on it's story. That is what is most important and the audio and images simply underscore and enhance that.
THE PACKAGE
The cover of this DVD features all the main cast members of the film except Joseph Cross in a polaroid picture. I think it is to be assumed that Cross is the person in the background wearing the paper bag over his head. The back features a bunch of shots from the movie (all of which are in polaroids), a nicely written description, a Special Features list, a cast list, and technical specs.
THE FINAL WORD
This is a movie that I missed in the theaters because by all accounts it looked like another drab, dysfunctional, indie, family drama. To be quite honest, Running with Scissors certainly is that, but there is a level of comedy that I think would appeal to a bigger audience. In fact, I would have thought that fans of this book (of which I have heard there are many) would've fully thrown their support behind this interesting, if not wacky, film.

I think Running with Scissors became the victim of a marketplace that only understands certain films. Or, maybe the gatekeepers to this marketplace on think that an audience will get behind certain movies. I can see why people may have been put off by the characters, and the book is very strong in how Augusten's life is presented, but something tells me if the film had been given more of a chance it might have faired better and been seen by more people.

On DVD, Running with Scissors is definitely a movie to check out.

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