At the Movies: The Beaver

Whoops. I thought this was opening next weekend but Buzzbo just informed me it’s opening today. So I guess I better whip this out now in case you’re thinking of hitting an early matinée but are waiting for my guidance.

Mel Gibson stars as Walter Black, owner of a failing toy company. He’s caught in a deep depression that no one, and no pill, can pull him out of.

Walter has two sons: young Henry (Riley Thomas Stewart) who still idolizes dad; and teen Porter (Anton Yelchin), who’s afraid he’s turning into his father. Walter’s dour, unresponsive nature finally becomes too much for wife Meredith (Jodie Foster) and she kicks him out of the house.

On the way to a hotel, Walter stops to toss some of his possessions in a dumpster. Inside the dumpster he finds a beaver puppet, which he takes with him back to the hotel. That night Walter tries, and fails, to commit suicide. When he wakes up, the beaver is telling him he needs to get his life straight.

With his new mentor tightly attached to his arm, Walter goes about repairing his relationships at home and putting his company back on track. He claims he has a note from his doctor that the beaver is a form of therapy and everyone should go along with him as if he were real.

Directed by Foster, “The Beaver” is an intriguing but odd film. The tone is all over the map — one minute it’s a comedy, then it’s a drama, then it’s some kind of social satire, then comedy, then back to heavy drama. It’s not a complete success but it holds your attention.

Gibson’s strange, compelling dual performance is what holds it all together. The beaver, with his thick accent distinguishing him from Walter, quickly feels like a real character.

Did it work for me? Parts of it worked, parts of it didn’t, but overall it was worth the time.


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