Augusten Burroughs’ unusual upbringing seems supremely cinematic. Mom (Annette Bening) drones on all day in a drug-induced haze, mesmerized by the sound of her own voice as she recites the narcissistic poetry she hopes will make her famous.
Dad (Alec Baldwin) drinks and chain-smokes his way through night after night of suburban oblivion _ before leaving the family for good. And his ersatz adoptive mother (Jill Clayburgh), the wife of his birth mother’s egomaniacal shrink (Brian Cox), simply sits in front of the TV, watching "Dark Shadows" and eating dog kibble out of the bag.
In writing and directing his first film, based on Burroughs’ best-selling memoir, "Nip/Tuck" creator Ryan Murphy vividly re-enacts all these episodes and more. But that’s all they are: a series of darkly funny, sometimes downright depressing moments with no great cohesion or narrative momentum.
And after a while the weirdness, which might have seemed so lively on the page, becomes dreary, overbearing and contrived on the screen. The performances are universally strong, though, especially from Bening, Clayburgh and Evan Rachel Wood. And as Burroughs himself, 20-year-old Joseph Cross more than holds his own with this veteran cast.
Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic