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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta legislature to resume with throne speech, tabling of blockade bill

EDMONTON — Alberta politicians are returning to the legislature with a promise… Continue reading

Drugmaker readies possible coronavirus vaccine for testing

Drugmaker Moderna has shipped its first batch of a possible coronavirus vaccine… Continue reading

Scotiabank reports $2.3B first-quarter profit, tops expectations by analysts

TORONTO — Bank of Nova Scotia is optimistic its international ventures are… Continue reading

A look at carbon prices across the country

OTTAWA — As of Jan. 1, every Canadian and all Canadian businesses… Continue reading

More Red Deer seniors could be dealing with homelessness, inadequate housing in future

Red Deer is short 200 affordable seniors’ housing units: Bridges study shows

Your community calendar

Feb. 19 A Liberation of Holland event is being held at the… Continue reading

People don’t want to be governed

Not so long ago, Canada was caught up in a conversation about… Continue reading

Kids under 12 banned from heading soccer balls in practice

LONDON — Children up to the age of 12 will be banned… Continue reading

Oilers among winners, Panthers losers at NHL trade deadline

Mired in a run of one playoff appearance in 13 seasons, the… Continue reading

‘Mixed verdict’ in Weinstein case may disappoint some #MeToo supporters: scholar

The verdict in Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial is in, but Canadian… Continue reading

Ex-coach gets 6 months in college scam, runs from courthouse

BOSTON — The former men’s tennis coach at the University of Texas… Continue reading

Kenney says investor confidence needed after Teck mine project killed

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says his government is taking action… Continue reading

‘They loved life’: Family and friends give tearful tributes at Kobe Bryant at memorial

LOS ANGELES —Tears streamed down Vanessa Bryant’s face as she spoke about… Continue reading

Most Read