The Beaver

The Beaver Image
Metascore
60

Mixed or average reviews - based on 40 Critics What's this?

User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 82 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Plagued by his own demons, Walter Black was once a successful toy executive and family man who now suffers from depression. No matter what he tries, Walter can't seem to get himself back on track... until a beaver hand puppet enters his life. [Summit Entertainment]

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    May 5, 2011
    90
    I suppose the perfect ending to the chapter would be to report that The Beaver is a masterpiece. It isn't quite, but it does offer an astonishing and resonant performance by Gibson, who spends most of the movie playing two simultaneous characters, often in the same shot.
  2. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    May 6, 2011
    75
    This bizarre little movie is all over the place as drama - but genuinely compelling as a one-of-a-kind piece of public self-flagellation.
  3. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    May 19, 2011
    70
    Gibson's performance, at times subtle, at times showy and never less than remarkable, is what makes The Beaver worth seeing.
  4. Reviewed by: Jen Chaney
    May 5, 2011
    63
    In a triumph of cinema over celebrity gossip, The Beaver mostly makes us forget about Gibson's madman persona and simply draws us into the story that he and director Jodie Foster, who also plays Walter's wife, Meredith, want to tell.
  5. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    May 6, 2011
    60
    Oddly engrossing, off-kilter drama.
  6. 50
    Clearly, the screenplay is looking for some black comedy here, but Foster's direction is too earnest to locate it.
  7. Reviewed by: David Denby
    May 2, 2011
    40
    As director, Foster, working with Kyle Killen's screenplay, treats the goofy premise with a literal earnestness-as a family drama about separation and reunion-that seems all wrong. A little wit would have helped.

See all 40 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 33
  2. Negative: 5 out of 33
  1. Aug 1, 2016
    10
    While this movie contains some comic elements, it is most certainly not a "comedy" -- but it is a very insightful and poignant movie. The plotWhile this movie contains some comic elements, it is most certainly not a "comedy" -- but it is a very insightful and poignant movie. The plot device of a beaver puppet is used to convey the ways various characters (and hint - all of us) "dam up" crucial parts of themselves. And across the board, every performance is impressive -- from the tragically-late-and-great Anton Yelchin as elder son Porter, who would like to dissociate himself from Dad completely; to the always-brilliant Jodie Foster (also director) as a mom and wife at her wits' end; to the unexpectedly astonishing Mel Gibson as the two-in-one character of Walter Black and ... a beaver hand-puppet. Yes, Gibson is tasked with playing two completely different but oddly fused characters, most often in the same frame. He pulls off a flawless cockney accent; plus amusingly droll bits, incredibly poignant moments, and practically everything in between. A peculiar premise, maybe -- but a very, very good little film. Cherry Jones and Jennifer Lawrence round out the cast quite capably and engagingly. Expand
  2. May 6, 2011
    10
    I've always known Mel Gibson was a talented actor but I had no idea to what degree until I saw this film. His portrayal of Walter Black isI've always known Mel Gibson was a talented actor but I had no idea to what degree until I saw this film. His portrayal of Walter Black is ineffably poignant and Oscar worthy in my humble opinion. Kudos to Jodie Foster for pulling off a film that took great courage to make. Expand
  3. May 17, 2011
    8
    Titles are so important! This is an very original and wonderful film that is unfortunately saddled with a very frivolous sounding title. ItTitles are so important! This is an very original and wonderful film that is unfortunately saddled with a very frivolous sounding title. It sounds silly and cartoonish (though not inappropriate) and is therefore misleading. This is a serious and very well acted film that alas, will do poor box office. Too bad. A better title would have helped. Expand
  4. Feb 5, 2012
    8
    Quite understandably for a film about the affects of depression, The Beaver isn't the most cheerful viewing experience. Yes there is the oddQuite understandably for a film about the affects of depression, The Beaver isn't the most cheerful viewing experience. Yes there is the odd laugh to be had, but generally, it maintains a rather, dark, sombre tone throughout. Mel Gibson, in one of the finest, most complex and pitch-perfect performances of his career, plays Walter Black, a seriously depressed owner of a toy company who uses a battered old beaver hand puppet as an outlet to communicate with the world, and as a tool to escape from the clutches of depression. Gibson handles the role with great respect for the subject matter, never over-playing the oddness of his character, but sensitively acknowledging Walter's problems and the only way he is able to deal with them. The rest of the cast also make their mark on the film, with Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence all impressing as Walter's increasingly frustrated wife Meredith, his alienated and depressed eldest son Porter, and Norah, the secretive and troubled romantic interest of Porter respectively. While the main focus of the story is Walter dealing with depression, the side-plots involving the other core characters are all compelling, and all add extra depth to the story. Jodie Foster's minimalistic but highly competent direction, and Kyle Killen's honest and emotive screenplay also help to make the film hugely enjoyable. My only real criticism of The Beaver is the jarringly over-the-top and unnecessarily rushed final act. Here, the usually level-headed Foster seems determined to tie up all loose ends as quickly as possible whilst giving the film a shock ending, which it really doesn't need. Up until this point, The Beaver's leisurely pace and very gradual development of its characters were what made it work as a film, and the sudden change of pace and tone doesn't quite fit with what came before. Despite this, The Beaver remains a brave, intelligent, and unconventional family drama, with a bit of black comedy thrown in, that deals with an often ignored or misunderstood subject with real care and insight. It's just such a tragedy this project surfaced when it did, as I'm sure it would have received more recognition had Mel Gibson not provoked such controversy in the headlines in recent years. This should have been the crowning glory of his hugely varied career, not his apology to the world. Expand
  5. Jun 11, 2011
    7
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. "You take everyone's suffering and turn it into gold," Lucy complains to her misanthropic brother-in-law, a Phillip Roth-like novelist in Woody Allen's "Deconstructing Harry", and it goes without saying that it's Allen who plays the unscrupulous writer. If read as a coded apology to his former lover, the line then becomes tantamount to a mea culpa, since in real life, as Allen's fans know, his films often contain autobiographical elements, none more so than "Husbands & Wives", the 1992 psychodrama that arrived in theaters on the heels of the Soon-Yi scandal, in which ardent Woody-philes lined up to go watch their hero work out his relationship issues in a diegesis fraught with transparency, unbeknownst to Mia Farrow, the filmmaker's live-in lover, whose adopted daughter he started sleeping with. Farrow's situation was unprecedented and unenviable, a celluloidal public humiliation perpetuated by Allen in a film where he lies self-referentially toward questions pertaining to fidelity. Playing Gabe to Farrow's Judy, the literature professor tells the wife that his young female students "don't want an old man." Attracted to what a friend describes as "kamikaze women"(a reference to Previn's Asian background), Gabe Roth pursues a younger woman, a promising student writer(played by Juliette Lewis), who in a self-revelatory scene at a taxi dispatch office, is seen retrieving a lost manuscript alongside Allen through tinted glass with an ominous "Beware of the Dog" sign pointedly hanging out front, as a sort of stealth warning to Farrow about his unforgivable betrayal that would soon be coming to light. In "Bullets Over Broadway", Allen fatuously declares that "an artist creates his own moral universe." Three years later, the amoralist, in a more humble and contrite mode, as Harry Block, admits that he "can't function well in life but can in art," words which never rang truer for Mel Gibson, who during production on "The Beaver", exercised his right as an artist to create his own circle of hell. Same as the Allen film, the appeal of this curio by the former Clarice Sterling lies in its baggage, which in this case, comes in the form of those infamous phone calls that a very drunk Gibson placed to his Russian girlfriend, which in turn, transforms ordinary scenes into confessional performance art, such as the one where Walter Black, using the dissociate hand puppet to perform an intervention on himself, given the context of his personal life, becomes a real self-introspective moment, therefore blurring the line between drama and documentary. When the beaver tells the depressed CEO of a successful toy company to "blow up" his life and "start again", he might as well be talking to Gibson himself, who apparently took the hand puppet's advice as motivation to blow up at Grigorieva over a series of menacing wireless exchanges; at one point telling the mother of his child that if she "gets raped by a pack of n******, it's your fault." Is it possible that the actor, under the influence of alcohol and, perhaps, the devil, could no longer make the distinction between where make-believe ended and real life began? When Gibson assaulted Grigorieva in their home(alluded to in the tapes where he hits the accomplished pianist in the face while holding Gibson's child), it's as if he was following the beaver's instructions to "blow up the whole bloody building." And yet, in spite of the tapes, people still tolerate him, boorish behavior and whatnot, as evidenced by he hero's welcome he received at the most-recent Cannes Film Festival where "The Beaver" had its world premiere. If you're a celebrity, or a person with the clout to wield power, like Gibson's counterpart Walter Black, the face of a multi-million corporation, you can get away with murder, or the considerably lesser crime of addressing your employees in tandem with a movable piece of anthropomorphic fabric. Surrendering control to the beaver, Walter's alter-ego, who carries "the negative aspects of his personality", rescues the slumping toy manufacturer by rolling out the improbably popular "Mr. Beaver's Woodcutting Kit", a product that has the metaphorical possibilities of being the Gibson-directed fluke hit "The Passion of the Christ". After all, the toy comes complete with a hammer(present during the crucifixion scene) and a chisel, which when used in concert with the hammer on the kit-supplied block of wood, a child could then produce a cross. "The Beaver", when all is said and done, allows Gibson to skirt personal responsibility and blame the reviled film and his domestic violence tendencies against women on a doppleganger. As an apology of sorts for all his past transgressions, in typical Gibson style, Walter tortures himself, cutting off his own hand with a bandsaw. The real Mel Gibson didn't call his girlfriend a c*** and a w****, or blame the Jews for killing Christ. That was the puppet talking. Expand
  6. Aug 7, 2011
    6
    The Beaver is strange, different and pretty complex. So complex that this film will go over a lot of people's heads. It tries to grab theThe Beaver is strange, different and pretty complex. So complex that this film will go over a lot of people's heads. It tries to grab the charm of indie film however it never truly feels indie. The Beaver tries way to hard to grab ahold of deep means and because of this it falls short on my levels. Expand
  7. May 6, 2011
    0
    Piece of crud film due to casting Mel G. Sad that Jodie Foster cast such an idiot in what would be an otherwise good film. Mel is a totalPiece of crud film due to casting Mel G. Sad that Jodie Foster cast such an idiot in what would be an otherwise good film. Mel is a total freak and anti-semite, who should never be in any film again. Expand

See all 33 User Reviews

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