Cusack should retreat to comedy

If Edgar Allen Poe were alive today, working as a Hollywood screenwriter (God forbid), I suspect he’d be penning not the abysmal script for The Raven but something called The Fall of the House of Cusack.


The Raven

One star (out of four)

Rated: 18A

If Edgar Allen Poe were alive today, working as a Hollywood screenwriter (God forbid), I suspect he’d be penning not the abysmal script for The Raven but something called The Fall of the House of Cusack.

He’d be unable to resist the tragic story of a bright comedy star, John Cusack by name, who couldn’t resist the fatal attraction of dramatic roles that have rarely suited his boyish charms. (See, or rather don’t see: Max, Grace is Gone, Runaway Jury.)

Cusack takes a horrific step into the career crypt with The Raven. He actually plays Poe, but it’s not a version of the late Baltimore literary figure that any serious reader would recognize or admire.

The film takes a slim kernel of fact and pops it into an oily bucket of corn. It posits what might have happened in the four days before Poe was found on Oct. 7, 1849, incoherent and near death, on a Baltimore park bench.

What was Poe doing that made him ponder, weak and weary? Why, quoth The Raven, he was chasing a serial killer who was perpetuating ghastly crimes inspired by the horror master’s vivid imagination and fleet pen.

Poe was also wooing a winsome rich lass (Alice Eve), enraging her tycoon papa (Brendan Gleeson), vexing the local crime investigator (Luke Evans) and feeding human hearts (don’t ask) to a pet raccoon named Carl.

Cusack’s pompous Poe is a regular Rasputin. He can solve clues like Sherlock, chase evildoers like Indy and write one of his horror masterpieces in a flat three hours — using a fountain pen, yet. All while indulging a thirst for alcohol that could topple a longshoreman.

It’s all very silly, prompting much unintended audience laughter when it isn’t just plain boring. Who would have guessed that gruesome deaths could be so dull?

Main blame goes to director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) and screenwriters Ben Livingstone and Hannah Shakespeare. They try way too hard to ape the success of Robert Downey’s Sherlock Holmes franchise, which is no raving hell but seems like Shakespeare next to this.

Cusack must also answer for this folly of forsaking his comic destiny.

Should he ever again attempt drama after this? Nevermore!

Peter Howell is a syndicated Toronto Star movie critic.

Just Posted

WATCH: Red Deerians learn about The Power of One

Red Deerians should be empowered by their beliefs and fight racism in… Continue reading

Tens of thousands across the US march for gun control

WASHINGTON — Summoned by student survivors of the Florida school shooting, tens… Continue reading

Canyon Ski Resort season wraps up Sunday

Central Alberta skiers and snowboarders only have a couple more days to… Continue reading

Future space crunch is feared, as no new schools for Red Deer are in the budget

Only local modernization will be at Father Lacombe Catholic School in Lacombe

WATCH: Hundreds come to Red Deer Rebels Fan Fest

The Red Deer Rebels met with legions of their of fans just… Continue reading

Supreme Court rules former Stephen Harper aide guilty of influence peddling

OTTAWA — Canada’s highest court has upheld an influence peddling conviction against… Continue reading

2 killed, dozen hurt in French supermarket hostage-taking

PARIS — An armed man took hostages in a supermarket in southern… Continue reading

READER PHOTO: Red Deer students celebrate Canadian courage at Juno Beach

Teenagers from Red Deer’s Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School are learning about… Continue reading

UN report: Loss of plants, animals making a lonelier planet

WASHINGTON — New United Nations scientific reports diagnose that Earth is getting… Continue reading

Excavator frees dolphins trapped by pack ice in Newfoundland harbour

HEARTS DELIGHT, N.L. — A pod of dolphins trapped by pack ice… Continue reading

Structure fire destroys home in Mirror

A house in Mirror is completely damaged due to an overnight structure… Continue reading

Trudeau warns senators not to thwart will of Canadians on marijuana bill

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reminding senators that his government… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month