Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Running With Scissors

One minute we were sitting at the lowly kitchen tale moaning about the sorry state of our lives and the next we were liberating the architecture with heavy projectiles. This was pure, freedom. Better than sniffing glue.
That passage, from Running With Scissors, is one of my favorites. I think I just really like the phrase 'liberating the architecture.' Heh. In the pantheon of book to movie adaptations, the movie rarely wins out. This is the case with Running With Scissors, yet, I still left the movie theater feeling somewhat fulfilled. It may not have been better than sniffing glue, but it was almost as good.

Running With Scissors is the allegedly true, amazingly fucked up, yet often hilarious story of Augusten Burroughs' childhood. After being given over to his mother's shrink, Burroughs had to live in a disaster of a house with the crazy doctor and his similarly crazy family. The film's main problem is that the book, like most memoirs, is composed of various vignettes that don't necessarily fit together in a nice screenplay format. Running With Scissors (the book) is more connected than, say, the stories in Naked by David Sedaris, but it's really nothing more than a collection of funny/outrageous/appalling/absurd/heart-wrenching scenes. Using Augusten's journal writing to tie them together was a valiant attempt, but it didn't quite work. And disappointingly, given the chance to use some of Burroughs' great passages in voiceover, the filmmakers instead chose to use much less interesting dialog.

That aside, I was impressed with the performances across the board. What can I say, I can't resist a quality supporting performance from Alec Baldwin (who played Augusten's alcoholic father). The Finch house, which is a character in its own right, was quite awesome looking - my high expectations for its look were actually fulfilled.

If you happen to see Running With Scissors and are even remotely intrigued, read Burroughs' second nonfiction book, Dry. As good as Scissors is, Dry is brutally funny and painfully poignant, and altogether a great read.

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