>> Straw Dogs (2011)

Title: Straw Dogs

Genre: Suspense

Starring: James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgard, James Woods

Director: Rod Lurie

Studio: Screen Gems

Runtime: 110 minutes

In Theatres: September 16, 2011

MPAA Rating: R

Rating: 0.80 (out of 4.00)

Grade: D-

BEFORE MARSDEN:

In the original 1971 Straw Dogs, Dustin Hoffman played the role of David Sumner.

 David Sumner (James Marsden) is a bit out of his element. A large overstock in trucks, no cell phone coverage out of town and general knowledge of every single person in town is what Backwater, Mississippi has to offer David. After all, Mississippi is no vacation hotspot for an L.A screenwriter. Since his wife, Amy (Kate Bosworth), grew up in the small town of Backwater, they have decided to take an extended visit to clear David's mind and give him tranquility from the busy streets of Los Angeles and some insight for his new script. Unfortunately, tranquility will not be a part of David's life for the next month. Once Amy's old flame/friend, Charlie (Alexander Skarsgard), and his crew begin repairing the Sumner's broken barn, David realizes that the ownsfolk of Backwater don't take lightly to outsiders. Through constant heckles and sharp-tongued comments, Charlie makes David understand that he, unlike Charlie and his crew, is not a man. He's a coward. But when everything falls apart and lives are at stake, can David become what it takes to protect his wife?

Straw Dogs is a remake of the 1971 movie of the same name and in reality, there's no need for a remake of it. See, Straw Dogs is completely and utterly unnecessary. Throughout the film, you're left wondering when things will pick and when the plot will show itself. We're introduced to many characters, only a few of them being reasonable and believable: Sherriff Burke (Laz Alonso) and David are really the only characters who make some sort of kinetic sense with what they do or say. Charlie and his gang of misfits fall under a category of laziness. Sure, they're bad people, but there is no reasoning whatsoever for half the things they do. One minute, they will play nice and do some construction work on the Sumner barn. The next, they will be hanging household pets with neckties. These acts would make sense if they were attempting to evict the Sumners, which they are not. Charlie and the boys are out to get Amy, their old friend and Charlie's old love. Keep that in mind, gentlemen: If you want your girl back, tightly fit neckties around their cat's throat gets them everytime!

There's just not much about Straw Dogs that is worth enjoying, or even understanding at that matter. The obvious storyline being shoved down throats is David's journey to becoming a man. Only, the characters attempting to teach David are terrible, horrible representations of what a man truly is. Yet, the worst part of Straw Dogs is that it doesn't even have any fun inside its' demented and logic-absent story. David goes hunting with Charlie and his boys, but only to talk to them about the cat, not to get closer to masculinity. David finds himself in numerous situations where he can appropriately transform himself if he truly wishes to, but simply stumbles into these situations without intentionally knowing what he did. Straw Dogs and all of its' characters are incompetent and infurirating. 

I can only say one good thing about Straw Dogs and that is the performance of James Woods as the completely batshit highschool football coach, Tom Heddon. We haven't had the chance to see Woods in much lately, besides an episode of Family Guy every other season, so it's wonderful enough to have him back in cinema, let alone playing a character of this magnitude. Coach Heddon is a drunken old fool who is either fighting his fellow barmates or searching and destroying the town "retard", Jeremy Niles (Dominic Purcell of Prison Break) for talking to his daughter. Especially near the end, Woods is just in a completely deranged autopilot for Coach Heddon for most of the films' runtime. Welcome back, Mr. Woods. 

Having not seen the original, I can't comment on how well-adapted Straw Dogs is. However, some scenes were completely out of left field and served no purpose other than shocking and stirring up controversy. Then again, that's why Straw Dogs was remade in the first place: To be controversial and shocking. There is a scene 3 quarters into the movie that changes Amy for the remainder of the film but is not brought up again but to show Amy is distraught from it. David never learns of it and no one else speaks of it again. It would make logical sense for these controversial acts to inspire David to become what he believes to be a man and end it all. Straw Dogs wants to go another way and just show the things that feed the sadistic nature of cinema with no moral realization or outcome. 

Straw Dogs is a plethora of things but most of all, it's pointless and unnecessary. Good talent is wasted on one sided characters (minus James Woods) and ultimately, everyone's time is wasted. Then again, I do now know how not to formally dress a house cat. Thanks Straw Dogs!

 

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