The Beaver

(2011)

Genres: Comedy, Drama

Review: The Beaver

Transcript for Review: The Beaver

IGNATIY VISHNEVETSKY
That’s a scene from our next film which has gotten more publicity than a story about a man with a talking puppet probably deserves.  In THE BEAVER, Mel Gibson plays Walter Black. He's a depressed father of two who sleeps his days away while his marriage and the toy company he inherited fall apart. The day after his wife kicks him out, Walter returns, seemingly re-invigorated, but he insists on talking to everyone using a hand puppet.



CLIP 2/ "Prescription Puppet"


IGNATIY

His wife Meredith -- played by Jodie Foster, who also directed the film -- and his youngest son embrace the "new" Walter. But Walter's teenage son Porter, played by Anton Yelchin, wants nothing to do with his father.


 
CLIP 1 / "Is this a joke?"

 
IGNATIY

Porter makes money by writing his classmates' essays for them. The school valedictorian, played by Jennifer Lawrence, hires him to ghost-write her graduation speech, and the two begin a flirtatious relationship. 


 
CLIP 3/ "You made this for me?"

 
IGNATIY

THE BEAVER suffers from a disease I like to call theme-itis; it's completely overgrown with symbolic gestures and props Porter lists similarities between himself and his father on post-it notes and breaks a hole through the bedroom wall by repeatedly banging his head against it; the characters build memory boxes together; Meredith spends sleepless nights watching simulations of rollercoasters. This movie sets out to address some real problems but it just gets too wrapped up in using these kinds of metaphors to hammer its point home. It’s Thumbs down for me. 

 
CHRISTY LEMIRE
Thumbs up for me and a lot of it is because Mel Gibson is so great in this and there’s all this talk about will this be his comeback role.  There’s been all this nonsense surrounding him and the ugly tape recordings of him that came out when Jodie Foster was cutting the film, it’s very much overshadowed all the press, even the release date, but you watch him and you realize, he can act and forget all the extracurricular nonsense.  This role lets him really show his capability for despair, but also show the great charisma that he made his name on decades ago.  I mean he’s talking through the little hand puppet in some cockney accent like some gangster in a Guy Ritchie movie.  He’s hilarious, but it’s also very sad and he’s very vulnerable it.
 
IGNATIY
You know if we were reviewing the…you know Mel Gibson’s performance in this movie, I would give this a thumbs up.
 
CHRISTY
His performance is the movie though.
 
IGNATIY
His performance is not the movie.
 
CHRISTY
He’s central, his evolution or his devolution central to the whole movie.
 
IGNATIY
No, there’s all this other material.  There’s the stuff with Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence, there’s Jodie Foster, there’s the toy company and him trying to that.  And then there are all of these kind of symbols that I feel like drag down.
 
CHRISTY
No, I will agree with you that the graduation speech Jennifer Lawrence gives is heavy handed, it takes the film in a detour, we didn’t need it and it’s like a whole different movie, but the two of them together, she and Anton Yelchin are very good together.  Have a ton of chemistry; very honest, young kids.
 
IGNATIY
No, it’s true, they’re both good actors.  They belong in a different movie and I feel like all of this material, it’s just if you wanted to make a movie about depression, make a movie about depression and not a hand puppet, and a mural, and you know a memory box.
 
CHRISTY
But this absolutely makes his depression believable.  He goes through some very, very dark places.
 
IGNATIY
Gibson makes the depression believable.  The movie does not.
 
CHRISTY
Yes, Gibson is the movie.
 
IGNATIY
Gibson is not the movie.  He is maybe at best 50% of this movie.
 
CHRISTY
He’s like 82%
 
IGNATIY
50.