There are so many great ideas in this movie that its a shame that it succumbs to the worst of Hollywood sapumentary stylings. Unfortunately, Running With Scissors seems like it was directed by Cameron Crowe at his most Elizabethtown. On the plus side, theres a great performance by Alec Baldwin as a reserved, 1950s-style father caught in a 1970s-style marriage to a drug-addled poet manqué (Annette Bening, who does her usual emoting). The plot is compellingly weird: Bening gives away her 16-year-old son, Augusten (Joseph Cross), to her deranged psychiatrist (Brian Cox) in order to spend more time with her narcissism. Sadly, while the odd moments work, theyre too often punctuated by swollen scenes of pat, pseudo-emotional intensity. A gorgeous performance by Joseph Fiennes is almost lost in the mood rock, and Evan Rachel Woods strong presence just doesnt overcome director Ryan Murphys need for catharsis. Worst of all is the waste of Jill Clayburgh: She plays Augustens stepmother, a broken-souled eccentric who eats dog food and stares at the world with the fixity of a crazy cat lady on St. Swithuns day. Shes supposed to be Augustens only true emotional connection, but because her character is never developed beyond caricature, its impossible to see why he would have a fondness for her. Theres still much to recommend in Running With Scissors, but its failures are a sad accusation of a filmmaking system that demands emotional manipulation.