The Beaver

The Beaver (2011)

The Beaver is a dam fine film

Mel Gibson in The Beaver

What a difference a few years make. Believe it or not, there was a time when Mel Gibson was one of Hollywood’s most beloved actors. His co-stars loved him for his charming nature and the practical jokes he played on set. Fans loved his films and flocked to theatres to see the likes of Lethal Weapon and Braveheart. But then something happened to the man who made Jesus famous. His career fell off a cliff. And landed on some broken glass. And needles. Needles that were filled with poison. And the needles were on fire, too.

This may sound like a bit of a drastic description of the situation, but let’s just take a look at what Mel has been up to over the past few years. First he was accused of being an anti-Semite around the time of the release of the Passion of the Christ. Then he was arrested for drunk driving and reportedly made racist and sexist remarks towards the arresting officers. And who could forget those rage–filled calls he made to his ex-girlfriend Oksana where he seemed to be channelling the spirit of Satan himself.

This is the man who was on top of the world in 1996 when he won Best Director for Braveheart, a film that was also named Best Picture at the Oscars. To put this in perspective, this would be like if in 10 years from now Natalie Portman was found guilty of running a cockfighting league right outside her backdoor. Now normally I would make some sort of inappropriate comment involving the words backdoor, cock and Natalie Portman, but there is no time for lewd comments this week, I have a movie titled The Beaver to review.

In The Beaver, Walter Black (Gibson) is a husband, father of two and CEO of a toy company. While it may sound like he is living a charmed life, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Walter is depressed and not seeking treatment, and as a result gets the boot from his wife. With his family life and career suffering, Walter decides to end it all. His suicide attempt is unsuccessful, but it does lead to him finding the one thing that will help him sort out his life: a beaver puppet.

Walter was previously a bit of a zombie, unable to communicate effectively with anyone. But once he sticks his hand in the beaver, he is a changed man. He communicates exclusively through the beaver, and takes it everywhere he goes. Including the shower. If you want to see this scene, just type “wet beaver” into Google, I’m sure something will pop up.

At first, everything changes for the better. Walter is accepted back into his family’s home by his wife, his career takes off and the CEO with a beaver on his hand becomes a celebrity. But when his wife encourages Walter to withdraw from the beaver, Walter’s life once again goes down a dark path.

Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster are both terrific in this picture. They have undeniable chemistry that was first on display in their 1994 film Maverick, and is even more evident here. Mel gives the performance of a lifetime in the challenging dual role of a depressed man and a beaver puppet. Foster shines as the wife and mother struggling to deal with the situation. On top of this, Foster also directed the film.

While some may question Gibson’s attitude towards women over the past few years, Foster has been a staunch defender of his. In return, Gibson clearly has shown a lot of respect for Jodie, or Sugar Tits, as he prefers to call her. Regardless, Gibson and Foster both exhibit a real love of the filmmaking process, and in particular a fondness for The Beaver.

There is absolutely nothing that I would change about this film. The acting, the dialogue and the cinematography were all spot-on. It was even the perfect length. The running time of approximately 90 minutes was just right. The Beaver did not need to be trimmed at all. The Beaver is a film that you should give a damn – or should I say dam – about. Next time you are looking to sit back and relax and watch a movie that will leave you thoroughly entertained, then leave it to The Beaver.

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