Double Wide Trailers: 'Straw Dogs'

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Posted Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 4:08 PM Central
Last updated Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 4:12 PM Central

by John Couture

When I learned that they were remaking Straw Dogs, I wasn't really surprised because Hollywood never saw a remake that it didn't like. What I was perplexed about though was their choice because it seems like there have been a bunch Straw Dogs ripoffs lately.

Funny Games, The Strangers, etc.

So with all of these other options out there, I was a bit taken aback when I heard they were going to remake the Dustin Hoffman starrer. Straw Dogs was also written and directed by Sam Peckinpah and while it's not The Wild Bunch, it's probably his second most well-known movie.

The original Straw Dogs was known for its violence (naturally with Peckinpah at the helm) and two violent rape scenes that led it to be banned on home video in Great Britain until 2002. Of course, the standard for violence has changed over the years, so you can only imagine how extreme the violence has to be in the upcoming Straw Dogs.

Starting with the leads, I don't think James Marsden has any chance at surpassing Dustin Hoffman's original performance. The main problem is that the male lead is suppose to start out as a milquetoast character and Hoffman at that time was the epitome of being unassuming. After playing Cyclops, no one will ever believe that James Marsden could be a wimp.

I had the same level of disbelief when I saw Justin Timberlake's dorky character in the Bad Teacher trailer. While I can accept actors acting against type, there's just some actors (and roles) that are hard to overcome.

I dig Kate Bosworth a lot and while I'm sure that everyone will point out Susan George's long and illustrious career, but I think she brings a bit more sass to the role. Her character also seemingly has more of a backbone, what with the changing gender roles in society since 1972. So, in that respect I do think that the new version could improve upon the original.

I should also mention here that Alexander Skarsgard's portrayal of the leader of the group that terrorizes the couple looks to be a marked upgrade in my opinion over the original actor. Of course, I'm only basing that on what I've seen from him in True Blood and the footage from the trailer, but I think you'll agree with me.

One other thing that I found interesting between the two trailers was the change in sexual mores between 1972 and now. In the original trailer, the salacious moment occurs when Susan George's pokies appear confirming that she's definitely not wearing a bra. In the remake, the center of desire seems to be placed on Kate Bosworth's back end as she's running.

Obviously, you have to work with what you've been given and Susan's chest is much more endowed than Kate's, but it is an interesting study in the changing sexual desires. Of course, with the remake, it's not simply enough to show the image, the bad guys have to make a comment that will allow the audience to accept the justice they receive later in the film.

Finally, the biggest changes are technology and setting. The original film is set in England and it's about a British woman who moves back to her small town with her meek mathematician American husband. The remake features an actress who moves back to her small town USA city in the South with her screenwriting husband.

It might just be me, but I have a much harder time believing the Southern stereotypes over the anti-Americanism that the original film focused on. There is a hint at the advancements in technology with the 911 operator line from the remake trailer, but I'm sure that the screenwriter went to great lengths to explain why modern technology like cell phones or computers were unable to help the Sumners avoid the vengeful ending.

Here's the original theatrical trailer for Straw Dogs and you'll notice that it follows the mold of many other trailers from the early 1970s.

And here's the new trailer for the remake Straw Dogs. You'll notice that the SEC isn't going to get a lot of favorable publicity from this film as the bad guys are seen wearing a University of Tennessee t-shirt and an Ole Miss car flag.

I will say that there is one Peckinpah homage that I dig in the remake trailer with the mirrored sunglasses. This homage is carried through to the poster, which is itself an homage to the poster from the original.

Here's the original poster:

And here's the remake poster:

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