May 29, 2011

Movie Quickie: The Beaver

Had to know that this movie was going to be a tricky box office prospect. I mean, there certainly is no love lost between Mel Gibson, with his struggles with alcoholism among other off screen incidents that have wrecked his personal life, and the public at large. So, boffo box office was never really a part of the equation. On another note, this story seems to be perfectly suited for Gibson, what with it being the tale of a hopelessly depressed individual. Could this be seen as a step towards Gibson's redemption? Or perhaps just a stage in rejuvenating his public image and film career? I don't know, I guess it doesn't really matter, when it comes to movies, it is all about what makes it to the screen.

The Beaver turned out to be surprisingly moving, not exactly what I was expecting from it. It is not perfect and does ask a lot of the audience in terms of suspension of disbelief. It is a movie caught halfway between the moving and the absurd. It is the sort of project that makes you wonder if it really needed to be made. Granted, that is an argument that could be made for pretty much any movie.

The story centers on Walter Black (Gibson), a man that is lost, helplessly depressed and adrift in his life, not to mention nearly running his company into the ground. He doesnt talk, is listless, and sleeps his days away, much to the chagrin of his wife (Jodie Foster) and his resentful son, Porter (Anton Yelchin). Before long, he is kicked out of his home, buys half a liqur store and attempts to commit suicide. He is interrupted by voice with an improbable cockney accent. It is the voice of a beaver hand puppet.

The voice, of course, is his own, but from an outside perspective. Walter takes to wearing the puppet and having all of his interactions through it. Over the course of the film we get to see him transform, work through his depression and reconnect with his family, but not without a price. I will leave it to you to discover his journey, which is quite interesting if you can get around the issues that the alays present puppet presents.

All around The Beaver is a solid film that benefits from another good Gibson performance and the confident direction from Jodie Foster who keeps the movie roughly on track and never allows it to enter parody, which would likely be easy to do with with the whole puppet beaver thing. There is also a side story involving Yelchin's Porter, he is an angry young man who is scared of becoming his father. His journey takes us away from the main story somewhat but is still interesting.

Great? No. Good? No doubt. This is a solid movie with good performances and a moving story to tell. It is not the comedy it is advertised as, but it is funny. It is well worth checking out.


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