The Twenty-First Century

Straw Dogs [2011]

There are cellphones and laptops in this remake of 1971’s “Straw Dogs”. Otherwise, it’s hard to tell the difference. The old “Straw Dogs” had Dustin Hoffman in the lead, and the subject was pretty controversial for its time. So controversial in fact, that the British Board of Film Censors banned the film from being released on video/DVD from 1984 until 2002. The two brutal rape scenes were ranked too violent back then, and left a sour taste in audiences mouth. But this ain’t the 70’s anymore. Chances are, you’ve seen more violent movies than “Straw Dogs” 2011. The story follows the same path: James Marsden plays David, a wussy L.A. screenwriter who takes his TV-actress wife, Amy (Kate Bosworth), back to her native farm where an old flame, Charlie (Alexander Skarsgård) and his nasty pals start harassing them. On the surface, everything is the same, except for one thing: Marsden is no Hoffman. While Marsden does his best to sell the character, it’s really hard to buy his performance. Marsden is an actor who has spent a good part of his career playing a superhero and was even a prince in a Disney movie. In “Straw Dogs”, he’s an atheist who doesn’t care about high school football. How can you buy that, when the actor looks like a stereotypical starting quarterback? But that’s just one of the things that bothered me in this mess of a remake. This is not to say that the movie isn’t completely without merit, as it is well shot and features some fine performances (James Woods as “The Coach” is priceless). But at the end, “Straw Dogs” is harmless as far as it goes. The people who first saw the original still remember it 40 years later. I doubt that anyone will remember the new one by next month.

Rating: 2/4

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