Walter Black (Mel Gibson) is depressed. He's a successful toy
company executive with a wonderful wife (Jodie Foster), two great
kids and more strategically-placed Apple laptops than any man could
need, but he has lost himself, somehow, along the way. Moving out
of the family home, he comes across a beaver hand puppet in a skip
and "rediscovers life" by speaking through it in a cockney
The Beaver is a story about finding a way to express your self.
It's about finding your own authentic voice. And ironically (as I
wrote on the 22 page production notes at the screening), that's
exactly what The Beaver fails to do.
It's a shame, because I really wanted to like this film, mainly
because I'm a fan of Jodie Foster, who directed and starred in it.
But despite the huge amounts of money that have clearly been thrown
at the production of this film, it is (again according to notes
scrawled in the dark at the screening) "as clunky as a block of
Here, in no particular order, are just a few things that are
wrong with The Beaver.
1. The metaphors are as subtle as a brick to the face.
At one point the frustrated older son, who regularly smacks his
forehead deliberately against his bedroom wall, breaks through the
wall completely, knocking tiles off the outside revealing the
insulation. He then stares through the opening. A breakthrough. We
2. The same son's inane valedictorian speech subplot is
pointless and way too heavy-handed. I don't think I have ever seen
a film in which the parallels being drawn between a subplot and
main plot have been so unsubtle.
3. Lack of emotional truth. For a film that takes chronic
depression as its subject, it contains precious little insight into
the topic. I never felt like I knew how Walter was actually feeling
(other than blank). I never felt like I knew how his wife was
feeling (other than worried). So I never really cared what happened
4. Pointless bits. Thanks to the beaver's cockney (why cockney?
who the heck knows) business savvy, Walter's company makes a
beaver-related toy that sells really well and gets him a spot on a
the Today show. He makes a business speech to everyone in his
company. It's all rushed through and leads nowhere.
5. The script isn't great.
I could go on, but you've probably got the gist by now.
Having said all this, I am glad I went and saw the film. It's
decently acted, clearly cost a heck of a lot to make so it all
looks lovely, and there are some interesting surprises towards the
end. Are Walter and his family reunited? Does he overcome his
depression? What happens to the beaver? It's not the best film
you'll ever see, not by a long shot, but one way or another The
Beaver will get you asking the big questions. "What I am doing
here?" may or may not be one of them.
The Beaver is showing in cinemas now