For the last few years James Marsden has been stealthily establishing himself as a bankable actor, delivering twinkling comic turns in movies like Hairspray and Enchanted and even going totally against type in the surprisingly fun Sex Drive. Now it's time for the transition into drama, and Marsden has taken the lead role in Straw Dogs, Rod Lurie's adaptation of the 1971 Sam Peckinpah thriller, which itself was based on the novel The Siege at Trencher's Farm.

Based on the report in THR, the two movies will turn out to be pretty different. The original starred Dustin Hoffman as a mathematician who moves with his wife to her hometown in England, while Marsden's character will be a screenwriter who moves to the deep South. Either way, things will go downhill from there-- the original film features cat murder, rape, and all kinds of violence.

Prince Edward, what have you gotten yourself into? Probably exactly what he needed to. Directed by the resolutely serious and mostly indie Lurie, Straw Dogs will likely not burst the bubble of the mainstream moviegoers who think of Marsden as a blue-eyed charmer. But it might expand his repertoire among directors who might let him do more than sing and dance. I'm rooting for him.

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