Running with Scissors (film)

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Running with Scissors
Running with Scissors (2006 movie poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRyan Murphy
Screenplay byRyan Murphy
Based onRunning with Scissors
by Augusten Burroughs
Produced by
CinematographyChristopher Baffa
Edited byByron Smith
Music byJames S. Levine
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • October 27, 2006 (2006-10-27)
Running time
116 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$7 million[1]

Running with Scissors is a 2006 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Ryan Murphy, based on Augusten Burroughs' 2002 memoir of the same name, and starring Joseph Cross, Annette Bening, Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes, Evan Rachel Wood, Alec Baldwin, Jill Clayburgh and Gwyneth Paltrow. The semi-autobiographical account of Burroughs' childhood (when his real name was still Christopher Robison), based on his best-selling book, received mixed reviews as a film.


Augusten Burroughs' mother, Deirdre, who wishes to become a famous poet, suffers from severe mood swings and erratic behavior. Augusten's alcoholic father, Norman, proves to be of no help. By the time he is a teenager, Augusten no longer feels safe in his own house. Deirdre loudly claims that Norman is the reason for her unhappiness, and that he desires to kill her. She ultimately sends Augusten to live with her psychiatrist, Dr. Finch, the eccentric patriarch of an oddball family, which consists of his submissive wife Agnes, religious older daughter Hope, and his rebellious younger daughter Natalie, who is slightly older than Augusten.

Augusten finds it hard to adjust to living with the Finchs, and is subject to irregular weekend visits by his increasingly unsound mother. After confessing to Natalie that he is gay, Augusten befriends Neil Bookman, Finch's patient and adopted 33-year-old son. The two begin an erratic sexual relationship quickly after meeting, but Augusten finds it difficult to cope with their age difference.

Consistent with a confidence pattern seen with the family of Neil – and with a 41-year-old patient who abused Natalie, and with young adult patient Dorothy Ambrose – Dr. Finch manipulates Deirdre into signing over her money to him. By the time of Augusten's 15th birthday, Deirdre has found temporary stability with her living companion Dorothy ("I've always wanted a daughter"), leaving Augusten feeling like his mother no longer wants him, while also dealing with the negative effects of Neil's schizophrenia and Dorothy's animosity.

A few years later, the still-teenaged Augusten leaves for New York to become a writer. He says goodbye to his mother and goes to the bus station. Agnes, with whom he has developed a caring relationship, arrives and gives him some money she has saved up.

In a mid-credits vignette, it is shown that Dr. Finch lost his license for insurance fraud and died in 2000, Agnes went to work in a nursing home, Natalie earned a degree in psychology, Hope worked with her dad until his death, Norman re-established contact with Augusten before his death in 2005, Deirdre remains estranged from her son, Neil was never heard from again, and Augusten (the real Augusten, seen onscreen sitting beside the film's Augusten) wrote a book.



Critical response[edit]

The review aggregator website Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, gave Running with Scissors a score of 52 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[2] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 31% approval rating, based on 133 reviews, with an average score of 5/10. The site's consensus states: "Despite a few great performances, the film lacks the sincerity and emotional edge of Burroughs' well-loved memoir."[3]


Award Category Recipients and nominees Result
Boston Society of Film Critics Best Supporting Actor Alec Baldwin 2nd place
Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Young Performer Joseph Cross Nominated
GLAAD Media Award Outstanding Film – Wide Release Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy Annette Bening Nominated
Hollywood Film Awards Breakthrough Directing Ryan Murphy Won
Satellite Award Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Joseph Cross Won
Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Annette Bening Nominated
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Best Actress Annette Bening Won
Best Supporting Actress Jill Clayburgh Nominated
Best Overlooked Film Won


The soundtrack for the film was released on September 26, 2006, a month prior to the film's release.[4]

  1. "Pick Up the Pieces" – Average White Band
  2. "Blinded by the Light" – Manfred Mann's Earth Band
  3. "The Things We Do for Love" – 10cc
  4. "Mr. Blue" – Catherine Feeny
  5. "One Less Bell to Answer" – The 5th Dimension
  6. "Quizás, Quizás, Quizás" (Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps) – Nat King Cole
  7. "Poetry Man" – Phoebe Snow
  8. "Bennie and the Jets" – Elton John
  9. "Year of the Cat" – Al Stewart
  10. "O Tannenbaum" – Vince Guaraldi Trio
  11. "A Great Ocean Liner" – James S. Levine
  12. "Stardust" – Nat King Cole
  13. "Teach Your Children" – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

An adaptation of Telepopmusik's "Another Day" was also an underlying theme that recurred several times throughout the film. "Waltz for Debby", "Very Early", and "Re: Person I Knew", by Bill Evans are used in the film as well. The song playing in the "Stew" scene is "d-moll" by the duo Tosca off of their album Delhi 9; this theme is repeated through the film.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Running with Scissors (2006)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 27, 2014.
  2. ^ "Running with Scissors Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 25, 2013.
  3. ^ "Running with Scissors (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  4. ^ "Running with Scissors".

External links[edit]