The Beaver: Something to Chew On

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PHOENIX - Walter Black is in the full grip of depression.  Unable to face life in the least, the toy executive finds refuge in a bottle and endless sleep.  When his wife finally has enough, she throws him out.  In full tail spin, he finally attempts to end it all.  But a curious thing happens along the way.  A beaver hand puppet suddenly becomes his alter ego and literally takes over for the ailing man. 

“The Beaver” is articulate, funny and sociable.  It has no trouble with authority or affection.  It can do all the things and be all the things that Walter Black simply can’t.
It rebuilds ties with his family and brings new success to his company.  But looks are deceiving and when Walter’s wife demands that “The Beaver” take a hike so that they can celebrate their anniversary like normal people, things take a giant leap into all out madness.

Some, well let’s be honest, many have thought that Jodie Foster must have been mad herself to cast the troubled Mel Gibson in “The Beaver”.  Ms. Foster has stood by Mel’s side throughout his tabloid troubles and I have no doubt she did it because she is a true friend.  But make no mistake, she is one smart cookie.  She knew the part in “The Beaver” was going to require a very special kind of man, a one of a kind actor who could pull off charm, wacky comedy and terrible, heartbreaking rage and self loathing.  Gibson not only does all this, he does it with full commitment to the moment.  I have no doubt that I have just seen the first Oscar worthy performance of the year.  I also have no doubt that Hollywood’s elite will do everything they can to quash any recognition.  They obviously had a hand in Gibson’s snub over “Apocalypto”.   To date no one has made a movie that can hold a candle to that in my humble opinion.

However, at the same time I have also seen the second Oscar worthy performance of the year with Jodie Foster, herself.  As the wife to the ailing Black, Foster rides a wave of emotions from joy to confusion, fear and eventually rage, herself.  If I ruled the world, she would also handily nab a nom for Best Director as well.  The movie is in constant threat of tumbling from its artful perch into the shark infested waters of ridiculousness.  Yet it gracefully straddles the delicate thread.  The imagery alone speaks volumes and is like a silent cast member in its importance to advancing the storyline.  I have no doubt that Foster’s steady hand, helped compose those shots.

It’s hard to call “The Beaver” a drama.  Yet “The Beaver”, for all its laughs, is far from a comedy.  I think it’s safe to say that “The Beaver” is charting new territory as a black dramedy.  It really seems to defy labels.  I don’t know what it is.  I only know I like it.  I like it a lot.  And I highly recommend it to all lovers of the craft of unique storytelling.

“The Beaver” gnaws on 4 Red Vines for brilliant, fearless storytelling

LADIES ROOM LOWDOWN:  Okay, I sat with my fellow reviewing flick chick, Gayle Bass.  She, too, was blown away by Mel’s risky performance.  Also, the audience laughed loudly at the comedic parts and a few even applauded at the end.  I also overheard a man say, “I liked it” to his companion as he left the theatre.

A preview of this movie was provided to me by the studio but it in no way effects my unbiased review.