Straw Dogs

Release Date: September 16, 2011

Movie of the Day for Wednesday, May 27, 2009
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This feels familiar.

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119/171 Max Braden This remake is more tolerable than the original but still unpleasant.

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Hollywood is at it again. Scheduled for a 2010 release is Rod Lurie’s (The Contender) remake of the controversial 1971 Sam Peckinpah/Dustin Hoffman home invasion semi-classic.

Now look, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a remake. Yes, most fall into the Psycho/Day The Earth Stood Still camp of remakes that only serve to taint the reputation of the original, but there are the occasional revamps that can either stand along side their predecessors, or even supplant them as the definitive version. The 1941 Bogart release of The Maltese Falcon comes to mind, cinema’s third attempt to adapt the Dashiell Hammett novel.

Then there’s always the issue of timeliness. Polarizing views of Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory notwithstanding, that recent cinematic revision of Roald Dahl’s dark fantasy benefited from Johnny Depp’s meteoric star boost courtesy of Captain Jack Sparrow. From a financial standpoint, at least, Charlie was an incredible success.

The thing is, a remake of this particular film, Straw Dogs, could most certainly have been very timely a few years ago. In the Peckinpah original, David Sumner (Hoffman) moves his family to England to escape the violent American culture, only to encounter intolerance and violence from local bullies. They eventually lay siege to his home and he must improvise defensive survivalist warfare in order to protect it.

A retelling of this tale would have seemed prescient in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, as either a reflection or a satire of the Bush administration’s reactions and policies. Sight unseen, however, I might tend to doubt that Obama’s America is likely to present much of a cowboy culture for Lurie’s film to connect to. As a country, we’re far from over the terrorist threat, but we’ve moved on to adopt a gentler approach. For that matter, our troubled economy has supplanted terrorism in our national consciousness. Straw Dogs may be coming along just a few years too late to really reflect or capture the tenor of the moment. (Martin Felipe/BOP)

Vital statistics for Straw Dogs
Main Cast James Marsden, Kate Bosworth
Supporting Cast Alexander Skarsgård, James Woods, Dominic Purcell
Director Rod Lurie
Screenwriter Reed Steiner
Distributor Sony/Screen Gems
Official Site
Rating R
Running Time 105 minutes
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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