The Beaver (2011) Jodie Foster
Production Budget: $21 million
Worldwide Gross: $6 million
Walter Black (Mel Gibson) is a man with many troubles. Walter can’t connect with his family, he is a lousy boss, and most importantly he doesn’t have any enthusiasm for life anymore. One night he gets drunk and plans on killing himself when a beaver puppet he finds connects to his hand and starts speaking to him (doing a rather Ray Winstone-ish type impression). The Beaver convinces Walter to do whatever he says in order to fix whatever is broken in his life.
You do have to wonder how many attempts at comebacks poor ole Mel has left. First he has his anti-Semetic tirade prompting him out of movies for a bit and coming back with Edge of Darkness. Then he has his embarassing yet hilarious phone calls with his wife which brought the focus back on crazy Mel and finally to The Beaver. I don’t think it strange that I have two opinions of him based on his home life and professional life. The man has A LOT of issues and a lot of bad things going on in his head. But at the same time, the man is very talented at what he does. This leads me to today’s movie.
The Beaver is a strange movie although probably not in the way you figure. I figured the movie would be rather wacky or at the very least light-hearted with its goofy premise. Harvey was light-hearted and (for a more recent example) Lars and the Real Girl, despite having some drama in it, was still fun. I just didn’t figure seeing Jodie Foster’s Beaver would be so dark and depressing. It is as if the movie took seriously the concept of Mel sticking a beaver on his hand would be and how sad it would be he lost his marbles. Sure there is the initial hilarity of Mel running around talking to his imaginary Ray Winstone and his life somewhat turns around. But then after a few weeks things get more and more awkward and people start moving away from the crazy man. Next thing you know you are a * lonely * crazy man with a beaver on his hand and it is back to depression. Intermingled with this you have a son who absolutely loathes his father, a wife who feels trapped in a ridiculous situation, and references there was a serious trauma earlier in Walter’s life. Even near the end we are given a scenes done with a straight tone which deal with more thoughts of suicide and of physical mutilation. I mean this is some seriously depressing shit. I felt like I needed a Xanax after this movie was done.
It’s cause this movie, even though is about a beaver, was partially made about Gibson’s own media circus. To the movie’s credit, Gibson is acting his ass off as if he really was working out his own personal issues with this. You really see how good he is as he turns from wacky comedic in one second to slit your wrists depressing in another. Gibson carries this movie which is both a positive and a negative. The supporting cast and their storylines are bland and they aren’t given the same amount of screen time they probably deserve. You have Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, and Jennifer Lawrence sitting around with nothing to do.
The Beaver tries as it is plain to see they weren’t trying to make some generic comedy. Mel Gibson gives a great performance and Foster was trying to make the story more heartfelt than its wacky original concept. The problem is I could not get into it at all. Despite some funny scenes, the characters are all mired in a deep depression which permeates the whole production. The supporting characters are not given the attention they deserved and by the end Gibson’s character goes so far it is hard to really side with him anymore. While this is a noble failure and maybe some can be entertained by it, I never want to see it again.