May 26, 2011

The Beaver - 2011

Director: Jodie Foster
Writer: Kyle Killen
Starring: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence

"I'm the beaver, and I'm here to save your goddamn life." After a suicide attempt, toy company CEO Walter Black (Gibson) adopts a beaver puppet as a coping mechanism and medium of communication with his wife (Foster), sons (Yelchin & Riley Thomas Stewart), and employees.

Some caveats, before I start the review proper:

  • I went to Orlando intending to see Attack the Block instead, but was six people away from getting into the theater. This was a consolation prize of sorts, as it happened to be playing at the same time.
  • Mel Gibson has had a very rough few years, due solely to his own actions.
  • This film is a drama.

I first heard about The Beaver two years ago, when it ended up on the 2008 Black List, Hollywood's annual survey of the best-liked unproduced screenplays. However, “A depressed man finds hope in a beaver puppet that he wears on his hand" left me a bit skeptical. However, Foster's interpretation impressed me. If you had told me two years ago that this wasn't a high-concept comedy, I wouldn't have believed you. And maybe, if the casting had gone with Steve Carell or Jim Carrey as originally desired, that's the directed it might have gone. Thankfully, Gibson was brought on, and along with him were hims flair for the dramatic. Not sure if the Michael Caine-esque voice for the beaver is his or Killen's, but it works well. He and Foster share the proper chemistry for a couple on the rocks, Yelchin (Charlie Bartlett, Star Trek) has yet to disappoint me, and it's good to see Lawrence plays a brainy cheerleader (more realistic that you'd think) just as well as she does an Ozark dweller. If you get a chance to see it, just keep in mine that, at most, you're getting a dark comedy. A-

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