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Growing up in the 1970's, young Augusten was living a middle-class existence with an alcoholic father and a bipolar mother, and unpublished poet with delusions of becoming famous. When his parents divorce, Augusten's mother sends him to live with her wildly unorthodox psychiatrist, Dr. Finch and his eccentric extended family.
Comedy Drama - This is a quirky, not quite funny, not quite serious adaptation of
the best-selling memoir. This is a film not for conventional tastes
as there are themes of homosexuality, infidelity, mental problems,
and general weirdness. Fans of star Annette Bening will get a lot
of her here, but the film is not for every taste. Gwyneth Paltrow
and Alec Baldwin's roles are fairly small.
PROFANITY: 23 F-words, 14 S-words, 7 GD's, a number of others. SEX/NUDITY: Gay themes; women kissing. VIOLENCE: A man hits himself and bleeds. DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Frequent alcohol, tobacco, and pills. ACTION: None. COMEDY: Quirky verbal humor and situations; dark humor; animal humor.
The movie begins in 1971 as the neatness-obsessed but sharply observant 6 year-old
Augusten (JOSEPH CROSS) finds himself trapped between his troubled parents: his
mother Deirdre (ANNETTE BENING), an unpublished, not to mention unstable,
confessional poet with delusions of being hugely famous, and his father Norman (ALEC
BALDWIN), an alcoholic math professor who long ago gave up trying to solve the riddle of
his wife's problems or his son's precocious behavior.
When the Burroughs' marriage goes to pieces, Deirdre signs up for therapy with the
eccentric Dr. Finch (BRIAN COX), a highly unconventional shrink who takes the family
under his wing. From the beginning, Augusten is suspicious of Dr. Finch's peculiarities –
his office includes, among other oddities, a Masturbatorium where the good doctor goes to
relax in the middle of tedious sessions. But when Dr. Finch fails to save the Burroughs'
marriage, Augusten's life takes an even more wrenching turn. While Deirdre is packed off
to a motel to continue her Valium-aided therapy, Augusten is sent to live in the Finch
family home – a kind of Brady-Bunch-gone-bad world where for some dog kibble is a
snack, sedatives are consumed like candy and grand prophecies emerge from the bathroom.
As Augusten unwittingly becomes part of the family – which also includes the
Mrs. Finch (JILL CLAYBURGH), "Bible-dipping” daughter Hope (GWYNETH
PALTROW), disco-rebel daughter Natalie (EVAN RACHEL WOOD) and Neil Bookman
(JOSEPH FIENNES), Finch's disturbed, 35 year-old, "adopted” son who lives in a shed at
the back of the house – he will descend into a kind of surreal childhood hell. Yet, he will
also find optimism among the horror, hilarity in the insanity and even love amid the
dilapidated ruins as he never loses his spirit or his resilience. Ultimately, Augusten will
survive through the most extraordinary of circumstances.