Movie Review: ‘Scissors’ features sharp acting

Ignore everything you think a movie should be about, and you have the general concept of “Running With Scissors.””Scissors” is the adaptation of the bestselling memoir written by Augusten Burroughs and tells the story of a boy in his adolescent years.

While that doesn’t seem like an interesting plot for a book or movie, the details of Burroughs’ life make it far more fascinating.

Burroughs’ (Joseph Cross, “Strangers With Candy”) mother (Annette Benning, “American Beauty”) is a struggling poet who is desperately trying to get published in The New Yorker. His father (Alec Baldwin, “The Departed”) is an abusive alcoholic.

It is through a series of events that Deirdre — the mother — starts visiting psychiatrist Dr. Finch (Brian Cox, “Red Eye”) to help her tap into her unconscious so her poetry will become more meaningful.

Deirdre receives one rejection letter after the next, so Finch prescribes her medication which, in effect, turns her into a walking zombie. He persuades Deirdre to let Burroughs live with his family.

As if his real family wasn’t already messed up, Burroughs moves in with the Finch family, who can be compared to the Addams Family and the Royal Tenenbaums.

There is, of course, Dr. Finch, who has a room he calls the “masturbatorium” and believes God speaks to him through his bowel movements. Finch’s wife, Agnes (Jill Clayburgh, “Vallen”), likes to snack on dog food while she watches movies, and his two daughters Natalie (Evan Rachel Wood, “Thirteen”) and Hope (Gwyneth Paltrow, “Proof”) are each dealing with their own issues.

“Running With Scissors” has a few flaws — like its long running time – but the positives far outweigh those little missteps.

The director (Ryan Murphy, “Nip/Tuck”) knows exactly how to make a scene both funny and heart-warming.

The acting is top-notch all-around, save Paltrow and Cox, who come off a little flat and cartoonish respectively. Benning, who plays a drug-addicted mother better than anyone I can remember, is a lock for an Academy Award nomination for “Best Actress.”

But perhaps the best performance of the movie is Clayburgh, who so subtly played the mother of a whacked-out family. But, she probably won’t receive much recognition for the role because of its subtlety.

While this is not the type of film the average movie-goer would see, that doesn’t mean those who appreciate arthouse-type movies should skip it.