Tagline: “He’s here to save Walter’s life”
Intro: As awkward as you’ll feel saying “I’ll have one for THE BEAVER" at the cinema, Jodie Foster’s irreverently titled film starring the infamous Mel Gibson rewards us with a poignant family drama. The vital love story between Gibson and Foster is beautifully complemented by the budding relationship between Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence.
Plot Summary: Having just been kicked out of his house by his wife Meredith (Jodie Foster), Walter Black (Mel Gibson) finds a ratty beaver puppet in a dumpster. After a failed suicide attempt, Walter emerges from his stupor with The Beaver on his arm giving him stern orders to make a fresh start. With an quasi Brit-Aussie accent The Beaver- extroverted, gutsy, and blunt- offers to bring Walter back to life by directing his every move and communicating exclusively for him.
Meanwhile, his son Porter (Anton Yelchin) gets an unlikely customer for his furtive plagiarism services: the head cheerleader and valedictorian Norah (Jennifer Lawrence). Norah hires Porter to write her graduation speech and they start hanging out for his “research.” He agitates her to tell the story she’s been hiding for others and herself.
Back to Walter, The Beaver becomes more of a presence in Walter’s life. The slight charm and curiosity turns to anger and fear from Meredith and Porter. Walter needed The Beaver to break out of his depression, but the puppet has eclipsed him completely. Can Walter fight the thing that sustained him before his family leaves him for good?
Verdict: This movie knocked me out. It begins like a quirky comedy with everyone resetting their expectations of Walter with The Beaver speaking for him. Yet, the laughs subside as the film reveals it’s darker and cutting story of Walter’s struggle with severe depression. Mel Gibson captures Walter’s move from desperation to complete dependence on the puppet. It’s kind of a duel role, since he supplies the voice and mannerisms of the cheeky beaver puppet.
The film also explores the quieter and common feelings of loss through Meredith, Porter, and Norah. There will surely be a scene or character that will connect for you. Jennifer Lawrence from WINTERS BONE is incredible in the film. She’s a fully developed young woman along with being a bewitching love interest for Anton Yelchin. We need more characters like her Norah.
THE BEAVER tackles serious territory with a high and ridiculous concept, but Director Josie Foster makes it work by carefully building on the persona of the beaver. As Walter retreats, the once funny Beaver becomes a specter of real danger. The conclusion isn’t neat, but offers real hope and catharsis.