Box art for Running With Scissors

Running With Scissors

comedy, drama

Bizarre behavior goes with the territory when a teenage boy is "adopted" by his mother's wacky therapist and must cope with an extended family of eccentrics.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 16
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
5 out of 5
3 out of 5

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."

what families can talk about

  • 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?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: Organized by Augusten's traumas -- here mom gives him to Dr. Finch for adoption, there he walks in on her having sex with one of her female poetry students -- Running with Scissors is smug.

- Cynthia Fuchs, PopMatters, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fresh: Ryan Murphy's jaunty screen version of Running With Scissors proves that nothing consecrates one's depiction of a narcissistic mother like having her embodied by Annette Bening.

- David Edelstein, New York Magazine, Friday, June 29, 2007

Fresh: ...what humor it has is bitter and harrowing...

- Jim Lane, Sacramento News & Review, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Audience Reviews

3 stars

Running With Scissors walk a tightrope between being a complete autrocity and being a work of mesmorizing genuis. I read the book a couple weeks ago and liked it a lot. The book managed to relate the bizare events without giving a feeling of "Woe is Me". Perhaps more importantly, the book was also believable - whereas in the film everything appears fairly ludicrious. The movie certainly has its moments. In fact, several scenes were absolutely masterfull. Most of the acting was pretty decent-though Even Rachel Wood is among my favorites. I was also overjoyed to see Kristen Chenoweth. The sound track was also pretty damn amazing! Idk, I find myself fairly torn on this one. It did not completely win me over at all, but its just too close to being really good to say its bad =

- neverteaseaweasel, Wednesday, December 2, 2009

3 stars

Good film with fantastic performances by Bening and Cox. The fact that it?s a true story makes it even more entertaining but I must say I'm a little cross with myself for not reading the book first, have been meaning to for so long and probably won?t now for while. Recommended.

- SirPant, Wednesday, September 30, 2009

3 stars

Cast: Annette Bening, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jill Clayburgh, Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes, Evan Rachel Wood, Alec Baldwin, Vanessa Redgrave, Kristin Chenoweth, Colleen Camp, Patrick Wilson Director: Ryan Murphy Summary: When Deirdre Burroughs (Annette Bening) impulsively decides that her adolescent son Augusten (Joseph Cross) should be raised by her unconventional psychiatrist (Brian Cox), her choice to give him away changes the course of his life forever. My Thoughts: "Haven't read the book (although I want to) so I am not sure if its the same in writing as it is on screen. It's such a crazy movie.. A good kind of crazy. I had wanted to see this movie for quite some time now, and I am glad I finally got the chance to. It was such a great movie. All the characters are all insane but sane at the same time. The Dr. was my favorite. The lines he gave had me laughing. If you haven't seen it I recommend you do."

- LWOODS04, Monday, June 6, 2011