Thursday, April 23, 2009

James Marsden cast as the lead in Rod Lurie's Straw Dogs remake

Rod Lurie announced last night, along with The Hollywood Reporter, that the lead actor in his upcoming Straw Dogs remake would be none other than James Marsden. Great news for an actor who is still waiting for leading man breakout after several scene stealing performances in the last few years. He survived an X-Men series that, all positives aside, couldn't be bothered with Cyclops. He more or less stole Superman Returns from Brandon Routh by being more heroic and likable than the Man of Steel himself (good for Marsden, but very bad for the film). He was terrific in Hairspray, and he was the only character who didn't royally piss me off in Enchanted. He was dangerously close to Mark Ruffalo territory in 27 Dresses, as the kind of actor who could make a bad romantic comedy into a watchable one. Late last year, he pulled the same trick with a bawdy supporting role in the slightly better than expected Sex Drive. I'm pretty sure that Straw Dogs represents his first out and out lead role, which is saying something as the guy has been acting since 1993 (his first small role was in the NBC telefilm In The Line Of Duty: Showdown In Waco).

Come what may, this casting choice seems to imply that Rod Lurie is attempting to be more faithful to the original literary source (The Siege of Trencher's Farm) than Sam Peckinpah was with his 1971 film. In the original book and this new film, the main character was a big-city writer. Dustin Hoffman famously played the role as a somewhat nerdy mathematician. I'm guessing that this casting is a sign that Lurie wants this new version to be compared to the original book, rather than the first film adaptation (the first film took place in rural England, this one will take place in the American deep south). So noted and fair enough, although I'd suggest changing the film title back to that of the original book for starters. Oh, and Rod Lurie's Nothing But The Truth comes out on DVD on April 28th. The original company, Yari Pictures, went bankrupt right in the middle of the awards rush. Sony was nice enough to pick the film up for home video distribution. You no longer have any excuse for passing up this tight, well-acted thriller.

Scott Mendelson


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