A Family in Crisis
Release Date: May 06, 2011
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 91 minutes
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Director: Jodie Foster
Writer: Kyle Killen
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Walter Black (Gibson) is a well-to-do family man who inherited a toy company from his father but feels unsuited to the task of running the business. As his depression mounts, he sleeps constantly at home, drawing resentment from his teenage son Porter (played by Anton Yelchin) and concern from his wife Meredith (played by Jodie Foster, who also directs the movie). When she can finally take no more, Meredith forces Walter out of the house.
One night while dumping junk in a dumpster, Walter sees an old beaver hand puppet and puts it on his hand. When he tries to commit suicide at his motel, Walter starts talking to himself through the puppet, in a Cockney accent no less. The beaver stops Walter from committing suicide, and the next morning the puppet begins helping Walter stop sleeping and take on a more positive spirit.
Revived in his emotions and drive by using the puppet, which becomes like a second personality, Walter tries to reconcile with his family and colleagues at work. He gives everyone a card telling them to talk to the beaver instead of him. The card also says that his psychiatrist has ordered the hand puppet as part of Walter’s treatment.
Using the puppet, Walter regains regain his wife and younger son's love and trust as well as that of his employees. He rejuvenates his family’s company and even conceives of a beaver-related woodworking toy that becomes an instant, enormous sales sensation.
However, Walter cannot live without the beaver. This drives his wife Meredith and his son Porter away again. Consequently, Walter sinks back into depression. This forces the puppet, which now has become more like a demonic second personality, to berate Walter for not believing that his wife and son are the bad guys, and he’s better off without them. A battle between Walter and the Beaver ensues. The question becomes, Who will survive?
THE BEAVER is a moving, ultimately redemptive movie about depression and what it can do to one’s family and one’s career. Although Mel Gibson is the protagonist, in many ways, the mother becomes the movie’s heroic figure, as she tries to cope with her husband’s strange behavior and reunite the family. This portrayal of unflinching love by Jodie Foster as a wife and mother is one of the strongest, most positive depictions of marriage offered by Hollywood in many years. It serves as a most admirable example of the wedding vows of “in sickness and in health” that one can imagine. (SPOILER ALERT) Ultimately, the movie ends on a positive note of personal and family healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. This doesn’t come without a cost, however.
Also, the teenage son Porter does have a very negative relationship with his father, but it's born out of frustration from Walter's refusal to really get help for years prior to the movie's incidents. Porter in fact has some serious character flaws himself, taking large amounts of money from his classmates to write their papers under false pretenses and misguidedly trying to help a new girlfriend deal with her emotions about her own brother's death by drug overdose. Eventually (SPOILER), he gets her into trouble by association.
As mentioned above, everything is resolved positively yet realistically, and the actors – especially Gibson – rise to the occasion of first-time screenwriter Kyle Killen's highly innovative and moving script. It’s also refreshing to see Foster show a radiant, positive feminine persona as a devoted wife and mother after years of action movies, and even more refreshing to see Hollywood portray family and forgiveness in a positive dramatic light that ultimately becomes uplifting. MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution, however, for a disturbing suicide scene, some foul language and some slightly explicit intimate moments involving the movie’s married couple. THE BEAVER is not for children.
THE BEAVER is a powerful, unique and sometimes unsettling but ultimately redemptive, positive, pro-family drama. Gibson rises to the occasion, and Jodie Foster is brilliant as the wife who tries to stand by her husband no matter what. Some viewers may find the movie too weird, however. THE BEAVER also has a disturbing suicide scene, some foul language and some slightly explicit intimate moments between the husband and wife that warrant extreme caution. Even so, THE BEAVER ultimately presents a touching, potent portrayal of personal and family healing, forgiveness and reconciliation.