When did Kevin Spacey become a great big cuddly toy? Gone are the days of the jittery career-making performances of The Usual Suspects, Seven and American Beauty. Now he chooses to tug at our heartstrings via homesick aliens and scarred school teachers. The new and improved cozy Kevin rears his head again in The Shipping News. Spacey’s portrayal of the down-on-his-luck Quoyle helps redefine the word maudlin as he leads his character on a voyage of self discovery. The problem is we don’t connect with Quoyle’s soap opera-ish problems enough to actually care about him. The E. Annie Proulx’s novel had a bleak beauty to its storytelling, but director Lasse Halstrom’s softening of the book’s eccentricities leaves us with a film that has as much edge as a bag of marbles.