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, ACE
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.


Burroughs’ early life is spent in a clean and orderly home. He worries about his clothes and hair, among other normal concerns. His parents, meawhile, argue constantly in the background.

Soon, his parents separate, and Burroughs is sent to live with his mother’s psychiatrist while she questions her sexuality. Burroughs goes to Dr. Finch, who lives in Northampton in a rundown Victorian house with his wife, Agnes. With them are a number of biological and adopted children who live in the house, as well as many of Finch’s own patients. There are essentially no rules within the household. Young people are having sex, smoking cigarettes and pot, and rebelling against authority figures. Finch believes that all of them are mature enough to be in charge of their own lives. Despite all of this, the issues that take place in Finch’s household seem to be dwarfed by Burroughs’ mother’s frequent psychotic episodes.

The Finch house represents, and in many ways, is a complete parallel to what Burroughs was used to. It is dirty and infested with bugs. Dirty dishes are left unwashed; the Christmas tree hangs decorated all year. The stairs are so rickety that Burroughs believes he will fall through them if he climbs them. Finch eventually begins to believe that God is communicating with him through his bowel movements. Incredibly, Finch begins to develop a kind of divination to attempt to understand these messages.

Hope, Finch’s second daughter, thinks her cat in dying. She decides to leave it trapped underneath a laundry basket for four days, speeding up the process.

Meanwhile, Burroughs’ mother is showcased in greater detail. She is vain, emotionally unstable, and not even slightly responsible or capable enough to be a parent. She engages in a sexual affair with a minister’s wife. Burroughs discovers this accidentally. While skipping school one day he walks in on the two of them. His mother ends this relationship and starts a new one, this time with an African American lady. This relationship is unstable and unhealthy as well. A new mental patient arrives at the Victorian house. This is soon after another of Burroughs’ mother’s breakdowns, during which she plays the role of his father. The patient’s name is Cesar, a man who tries to rape Burroughs unsuccessfully while he is sleeping. Burroughs’ mother has another psychotic episode and tries to attack Burroughs while she is moving her belongings out of the house. Burroughs’ mother is eventually restrained on a bed.

Burroughs discovers he is gay. He tells the doctor’s son, Neil Bookman. He was sexually abused by Bookman, who forced him to perform oral sex on him. They form a destructive relationship, during which Burroughs’ opinion of Bookman often flip flops. One day he is desperate for attention and the next he can’t wait to get away from the guy. No one seems to be even slightly bothered by this relationship. Bookman becomes obsessed with the boy, and Burroughs threatens to charge him with statutory rape. Eventually Bookman leaves for New York City and is never heard from again, despite Burroughs and the Finch family doing everything they can to contact him.

The next relationship that Burroughs begins to form is with one of Finch’s daughters, a girl named Natalie. At the beginning of the movie, Burroughs actually hates her. Now, though, they do everything together, including looking for jobs together, running around the back of a waterfall, and destroying the kitchen in the Victorian house. The two leave the Finch household together.

The end of the film concludes with Burroughs living in his own apartment with Natalie. He is faced with the choice between defending Dr. Finch or his mother. She has accused the doctor of raping her in a motel in order to “cure her” of her psychotic breakdowns. Burroughs considers both his mother and Finch’s family as his own, and he can’t choose. He internally believes that Finch did, in fact, rape his mother. Burroughs decides once and for all to leave Massachusetts. He moves to New York City, and despite not having any kind of plan, he is determined to succeed and make one as he goes.



Critical response[edit]

The review aggregator website Metacritic 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 from 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". Amazon.

External links[edit]