Movie Review: "Straw Dogs"

Movie Review: "Straw Dogs"

Summary: A Hollywood screenwriter, David (James Marsden), moves to Mississippi, which is the hometown of his actress wife, Amy (Kate Bosworth).

Published September 16, 2011

Summary : A Hollywood screenwriter, David (James Marsden ), moves to Mississippi, which is the hometown of his actress wife, Amy (Kate Bosworth ). David doesn't mesh well with the redneck country boys, especially, Charlie (Alexander Skarsgård), who had a relationship with his wife when she was a teen.  Implausible drama ensues, which results in a passive David finally fighting back. As the movie poster reads, "Everyone has a breaking point." Hopefully Straw Dogs is a breaking point for Hollywood to stop spitting out terribly done remakes.

Review : Straw Dogs is loosely based on the original from 1971, which starred Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman and is considered a cinematic  masterpiece by many. Straw Dogs 40 years later is the exact opposite. Instead of edgy, we now have bland. Instead of original, we now have trite. Instead of socially relevant, we now have a waste of celluloid. 2011 has been no great year for films, but Straw Dogs is close to snatching the title as the worst flick of the year. In the 109 minutes, you can literally feel time wasting away and with each passing frame, the movie gets progressively worse.

Written and directed by Rod Lurie , the film blatantly fails at tackling machismo and how the most humane people will become inhumane when pushed too far, which was a theme of the original. Dopey characters, tiresome build-up and hillbilly stereotypes annihilates any chance of wit or entertainment.  Loaded with various plots from the mentally ill to rape, there is little redeeming about Straw Dogs .

In the lead role James Marsden , as the wimpy city boy, is annoying and unlikable. If the attractive Marsden has any acting chops, we surely didn't see them in Straw Dogs . Then again, given the ludicrous script, he didn't have much to work with. His character ignores the country bumpkin construction workers (the villains) who he hired repair the roof of his barn. They barge into his home for beers, flirt with his wife and even kill a family pet. Yet, he does nothing, making the final “fight back” scene even more illogical.

David's wife, Amy, is played by Kate Bosworth , who is simultaneously a victim and an instigator.  Amy is laughably unrealistic and an atrocious throwback to the helpless damsel in stress.

The rest of the cast is packed with actors playing up God and gun-loving country folk, relying on images we’ve seen a million times . Laz Alonso has a small role as a sheriff, but he is easily disposable as is everything else in Straw Dogs .

The only good of Straw Dogs is the polished cinematography and a grimy gloss that would've accentuated a better film. There are some tawdry, bloody scenes at the tail end (a nail gun and bear trap provide a cheap thrill), but it's too little, too late with a death scene almost as foolish as Final Destination . Straw Dogs is a perfect model on how to ruin a remake.

Straw Dogs is in theaters today.

Written by Clay Cane


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