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The Beaver

A movie directed by Jodie Foster

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Disappointing, mediocre drama that fails to touch darker, deeper realms of its subjects.

  • Sep 25, 2011
** out of ****

The Jodie Foster-directed drama "The Beaver" misses success because of its subject matter. You probably know what the film is about; a depressed father (Mel Gibson) finds a puppet beaver in a dumpster and develops a sort of alternate ego whenever his hand is inserted in the stuffed mammal's asshole. The beaver speaks in a British accent; and is smarter, more emotionally capable than Gibson's character ever was. This opens new doors for the character, although there's always a problem around the corner; no surprise there. Most dramas need conflicts; it's just that the central conflict here seems to be depression itself, and the film doesn't even take that in ridiculously serious light.

People are saying that one of the film's many fatal flaws is that it picks the wrong tone for its story. I also feel this way. Any premise involving a guy with a puppet on his hand, everywhere he goes, is not to be taken seriously; yet this film tries so hard to be very dramatic and even believable. I just couldn't buy into it. There were too many stories going on aside from the depressed father's; and the writing just felt off. There were indeed moments where it was pleasant and I was able to enjoy myself, but the problem may lie in the fact that "The Beaver", for all its depressing subject matter, just isn't dark or depressing enough.

The film opens with an interesting shot of Walter Black (Gibson) lying motionless on a floatie in the pool that resides in the backyard of his home. The water appears to be steaming hot; perhaps this is a suicide attempt. We learn that it might have been after all, considering that Walter is in the deepest stage of depression, and there's a moment, also near the beginning, where it's very clear that he's trying to end his life once and for all. But then comes that puppet; oh...that darned puppet. Like I said, Walter finds it in the dumpster, and immediately, his new little alter ego begins to help him get through every day without trouble. His wife (Jodie Foster) is impressed by the improvement in his attitude and personality, while his sons are divided.

There are two boys; the younger one (Riley Thomas Stewart), who loves his father no matter how quirky the whole puppet idea gets, and then there's Porter (Anton Yelchin), the eldest son, who has resented his father probably ever-since he entered young adulthood. He may be going through a phase himself. Until he truly finds himself, he's writing papers for his peers, one of them being the lovely Norah (Jennifer Lawrence), whom Porter develops a romantic relationship with, over time.

See what I mean by too many stories? Well, more like one-too-many stories, to be exact. I was ready to invest emotionally in Walter's tale of despair, but due to many, many distractions; I was unable to really...care. The drama doesn't feel authentic. With that being said, the four central performances (Gibson, Foster, Yelchin, and Lawrence) are all very good; their characters just lack resonance.

While I didn't buy into the film, I wouldn't say it's a bad one. I was consistently entertained as I should be by any Hollywood drama. The dialogue doesn't suck ass due to the efforts of the cast, but there's nothing really inspired going on here. It sounds like a hipster drama and luckily, it never really develops into that; but what it does develop into just doesn't cut it as a good movie. Some people might enjoy it because they find it engaging and touching; but when you look at the bigger picture, with such a premise, they could have done so much more writing-wise. Gibson does indeed make a triumphant return in particular in comparison to his fellow cast-members; he just needs a better movie to follow this one up with. I've got some faith in him; that he can once again become as talented as an actor as he used to be. All he has to do is leave his days of alcoholism behind. And also that damn beaver.

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More The Beaver reviews
review by . May 08, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I am
I always support almost any actor/actress who is going for a new position in filmmaking by watching their movies. Actors such as Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven), Mel Gibson (Braveheart) and Jon Favreau (Iron Man) have had their successes when the transition from performer to the one behind the camera came and now, it may be time for Jodie Foster (Silence of the Lambs) to shine as director (corrected: her first project was Little Man Tate. Thanks, @Trekscribbler). It is with this mindset that …
review by . May 08, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
THE BEAVER   Written By Kyle Killen   Directed by Jodie Foster   Starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence       The Beaver: Everybody needs a friend, Walter, and you’ve got me.       Who does depression hurt? Everybody. Ordinarily, this would mean to include everyone directly involved with a person suffering from depression but thanks to Jodie Foster, now depression can also hurt everyone …
Quick Tip by . September 16, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
What can I say? I'm a big fan of both Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster. I'd probably watched any movie by them as long as it's not perverted! The Beaver is a light movie about a heavy subject matter. I think as a movie goer (although I actually watched it downloaded through an app) we, at least I, won't choose any depressive material as subject matter. Hence, a movie about a depressed man could hardly be attractive enough to go to the cinema for, even if it stars both Gibson & Foster. It may just be …
review by . May 10, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         The great tragedy of The Beaver is that it cannot be taken seriously. It employs a first-rate cast and the performances are excellent, but the premise is such that (1) not even suspension of disbelief can work you through it, and (2) even if it could, the film doesn’t send an especially worthwhile message. I’m well aware that depression is real and that there are numerous ways to cope with it, but I don’t believe that the particular …
review by . April 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'The Beaver' 'Two Jews On Film' Only One Feels For This Furry Puppet (Video)
'The Beaver' stars Mel Gibson as Walter Black/The Beaver.  The movie is directed by Jodie Foster who plays Walter's long suffering wife Meredith.       Walter, a once successful toy executive and family man suffers from major depression.  No matter what he tries...(pills, therapy, exercise, flagellating himself) Walter cannot shake the feeling that life is meaningness and all is hopeless.  This dude is really in the dumps.   …
review by . August 29, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   The life of the troubled husband Walter Black proves that Jodie Foster could do much more as a director than anyone could think. She has the eye and the spirit for the job if she managed to turn a movie with a puppet into probably the best original drama of this year.      Walter Black (Mel Gibson) is a depressed man who surrounded by monotony, daily routine, empty weekends, work issues and family disaster tries to find a way out of his pathetic and sad life, a life …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie



Genre: Comedy, Drama
Release Date: 20 May 2011 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Kyle Killen
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