The Beaver

The Beaver

In Theatres: 
May 06, 2011

Although Gibson gives a wonderful performance, The Beaver's unique storyline is clouded by sloppy direction in the final half.

 Mel Gibson isn't a name that goes unrecognized. He's been many things over the past 35 years: He's been a Scottish warrior bent on victory and freedom. He's played a renegade cop who plays by his own rules (numerous times). He's even lent his voice to pilgrim John Smith in Disney's Pocahontas. Yet, there's some ground left cold that has yet to be tackled. This Friday, this all changes. 

Walter Black (Mel Gibson) is in a bit of a rut. Actually, it's more of a life-altering rut. With depression and boredom coursing through his body, Walter has singled out his entire family, which includes his wife, Meredith (Jodie Foster), and his sons, Porter (Anton Yelchin) and Henry (Riley Thomas Stewart). Soon kicked out of his home, he has left himself with no other option but suicide. But amidst his attempts, Walter is confronted by an angel. A furry, buck-toothed angel who goes by the Beaver. Walter has something that the beaver does not: life. Now that he has found a person to speak through, the beaver has promised to help Walter get his life back on track. Everyone seems eager to accept this unorthodox method of treatment. Everyone but Porter. See, Porter has a problem of his own. Desperately trying not to become his father, he finds comfort in writing papers for other students for a profit. Once Valedictorian, Norah (the beautiful Jennifer Lawrence), seeks help on her graduation speech, Porter finds himself head over heels for a girl who is just misunderstood as he. But, of course, not everything is how it seems. 

I honestly had no idea what to expect from this Jodie Foster directed vehicle. On the outside, we're given a film about an extremely controversial actor finding his (british) voice through a lifeless beaver puppet. It would have been exceptionally simple to take this premise and turn it into a 91 minute long joke. Thankfully, The Beaver is in the hands of a trained professional: Ms. Foster.

The content at hand could easily have been turned into a dark comedy about a crazy man and his beaver puppet. And in some ways, it is exactly that. But Foster captures the emotion and pain of Walter that makes the audience believe they would do the same thing if in the same scenario. In its' first half, Walters' depression takes a backseat to the hilarity and positive attitude of the beaver. Thanks to his help, Walter is able to become the biggest success of his toy company, passed down to him by his father, his family is accepting him again and his wife is loving him as much as she ever has. But unfortunately, Porter is left out for the majority of the family storyline, as he has his own worries with Norah. 

The downside of The Beaver is its messy second half. The storyline between Walter/The Beaver, Walter/Family and Porter/Norah somehow all collide without warning or necessity. The finale would be refreshing and satisfying if it wasn't just pulled out of thin air. The humor and charm of the film is lost to a quick wrap-up of solving problems just to end them. It's a distasteful move that leaves way more desired from the audience. With an ending more faithful to its' first half, The Beaver would stand an excellent indie film and perhaps one of the best in years. That isn't to say Foster isn't to be praised for her direction. She did just fine. The Beaver has a story that is complicated to wrap up. Unfortunately, it was practically destined to be a disappointing ending. 

Although Gibson gives a wonderful performance, The Beaver's unique storyline is clouded by sloppy direction in the final half. Whether you're a fan of Gibson's acting/recent behavior or not, his performance is delightful and reminds us why he was a star to begin with. 

Ryan Sterritt
Review by Ryan Sterritt
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