Running With Scissors—TriStar
Augusten Burroughs’ memoir Running With Scissors (the memoir that Oprah didn’t put on her book club, then rip the author a new one after learning it was fake) finally makes its way to the screen courtesy of Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy. For those unfamiliar, Burroughs had quite a bizarre upbringing. His mother (wonderfully played by Annette Bening) is a narcissistic, delusional dreamer who thinks her poetry is amazing and that she is someone important. Sadly, she neglects her son (Joseph Cross) to pursue her dreams, leaving him under the care of her eccentric therapist, Dr. Finch (Brian Cox), and his twisted family (including Jill Clayburgh and Gwyneth Paltrow) in a house packed to the gills with knickknacks, clutter, and junk. To call this boy’s upbringing dysfunctional is an understatement.
The movie is gorgeous to look at. The attention to detail within the frame looks great in the 2.40:1 anamorphic presentation; you can marvel at the level of detail within the doctor’s house. The color scheme (all 1970s chic) also translates quite well. I wish I could say the same for the Dolby Digital 5.1, as it feels slightly off, sometimes boosting the classic ’70s tunes over the dialogue. This is confusing and a bit off-putting. Aside from the music, the soundtrack rarely even takes advantage of the surrounds. Unfortunately, the best-sounding scene in the movie is the one that’s in complete silence.
One of the three behind-the-scenes documentaries briefly chronicles the production design, specifically the house, which was a set that made me visibly uncomfortable. Sadly, the DVD is not as packed as the house. Along with the aforementioned production-design featurette, there is one about the actors and one chronicling the quest to bring the story to the screen. For a book with such a rabid following, you would think the DVD would offer more, but that’s not the case. This feels like the very definition of bare bones.
The film is not everyone’s cup of tea, at times as much of a mess as the house within, but it’s heartfelt, touching, and full of good performances. Still, the DVD presentation isn’t enough to complete the “cut above the rest” pun I cracked at the top.