Want more recommendations for your family?
Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Damaged, miserable adults raise damaged, frustrated, frightened (in one case, nearly homicidal) children; affair between a 35-year-old and a teenager; medication as a means to "cope" depression and manic behavior; mother's crazed behavior frightens her son; reverence/reading of bowel movements as a sign from God. The central teenage characters have no good role models to follow and no limits placed on their behavior -- they do whatever they want without consequences (like tear down the kitchen ceiling on a whim).
Violence & Scariness
A woman slams her husband against a cupboard, and he falls to the floor, his head bloodied; discussions of suicide and electroshock therapy; an adopted adult son explodes in father's office, ripping and slamming furniture, then approaches his adoptive father with a knife.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Dr. Finch keeps a "Masturbatorium" in his office; sexual activity between a 14-year-old boy and his 35-year-old male lover (some skin visible, not explicit); mention of penis/flasher; language ("Don't touch my sausage," "I don't eat p---y").
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Casual, frequent, and angry use of profanity, including "f--k" (20+); fewer instances of "s--t," "bitch," "c--t."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Mentions or brief glimpses of time period-defining products like Sanka, Tab, McDonalds; Dark Shadows on television.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Frequent cigarette smoking (by teens and adults); doctor dispenses pills randomly to "quiet the nerves" lots of drinking.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this film isn't for kids. It's based on the true story of author Augusten Burroughs' extremely dysfunctional childhood (his manic mother handed him over to her therapist) and runs the gamut of bizarre, often-crazy behavior. Characters smoke, drink, use drugs, receive very questionable psychiatric treatment, and discuss suicide (in one scene, a boy is outfitted with electroshock therapy gear, though he's not shocked). The film includes frequent arguments between family members, with yelling, crying, and occasional aggression (including a knife threat at one point). Sexual images include lesbians kissing and hugging and an affair between a teenage boy and a 35-year-old man (who ends up being his adoptive brother). Lots of profanity, especially "f--k." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
More absurd than insightful, Running with Scissors treats its dangerously self-deluded characters as broadly comic figures. Director Ryan Murphy's film grapples with mature themes -- including child sexual abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, and mental illness -- but loses its way thanks to its episodic structure and flat-footed humor.
Organized by assorted traumas, the film seems dated and smug (think The World According to Garp). With its outsized, wannabe Oscar-bait performances, the movie careens from scene to scene, dropping in Deirdre's lesbianism as yet more evidence of her delirious search for "herself." By the time Augusten makes his escape, you're way ahead of him.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate