Good, Bad & Ugly Review: Straw Dogs

Straw Dogs
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 42% (Critics) / 35% (Audience)
Directed By: Rod Lurie
Written By: Rod Lurie
Starring: James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgård, James Woods
Studio: Sony Pictures/Screen Gems

Synopsis: A Los Angeles screenwriter David and his actress wife Amy relocate to her family home in a small town in the deep South after her father’s death. Before long old conflicts and relationships begin to boil leading to an explosive confrontation that the transplanted couple may not survive.

The Good:
{crickets} {crickets}

The Bad:
There was not one likable person in this entire movie. Every character was horrible and the actors played them as if they were directed to be as annoying as humanly possible. And someone needs to sit James Woods down and have a talk with him because the amount of over-acting he did in this movie bordered on the criminal and may get his SAG card revoked.

The Ugly:
The worst thing about this movie is the cowardice of the writer/director Rod Lurie especially when it came to the infamous double rape scene that caused so much controversy when the original Sam Peckinpah film was released in the 1970s. In the original the initial rape was a murky, convoluted situation that saw the character of Amy “give in” to the sexual encounter with Charlie, the leader of the crew that would eventually terrorize her and her husband. While in the beginning Amy protested and rebuffed Charlie’s sexual advances, before long she was an active (if visibly guilty feeling) participant in the sexual act that occurred. It was the appearance of Charlie’s cohort Norman and his subsequent, violent assault that was the more recognizable instance of rape.
In the remake there is no confusion of whether Amy was raped by Charlie and once Norman attacks her it is less impactful because the difference between the two attacks are nowhere near as wide as in the original.
The changes Lurie made in these, the most famous scenes of the original, seemed to be based on his own inability to walk the edge of controversy like Peckinpah did nearly 40 years ago.

Final Verdict: This was a film that did not need to be remade especially if the director was not going to even attempt to match the level of artistic exploration and societal button pushing that the original did. Instead all that was done by remaking STRAW DOGS was to saddle a bunch of very likable actors with an incredibly shitty script and direction that turned into a piss poor movie. F

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