“What are you doing in here? This is my masturbatorium!”

Maybe it’s not cool to spoil one of the funniest lines in this movie, but I just couldn’t help it. I hope it’s evidence that this rather bleak memoir has enough moments of levity and absurdity to give it balance.

Utterly non-formulaic and chock full of excellent performances, Running With Scissors is the story of Augustan Burroughs, an oddball child whose unbalanced poet mother semi-abandons him at age ~13 or 14 to be raised by her psychiatrist. Which might be OK, except he is totally unethical old coot with whacked-out daughters and wife. I will admit that the story does strain the viewer’s credulity. The details feel wildly embellished, but I was in a mood to accept and enjoy them.

The movie could have faltered by becoming too maudlin and self-pitying, or too zany. It does shift tones, and sometimes events turn briefly alarming. But the action doesn’t dwell overlong in these moments and it doesn’t panic and try to depart from them too quickly. I’m pretty sure this movie isn’t for everyone, but I was impressed. I might be easily impressed though :-)

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