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Monday, May 16, 2011

The Beaver (Limited Release Date: 5-6-2011)

        Where were you when you first heard about The Beaver, do you remember? I can recall my initial exposure clear as day: I was sitting in a theater, watching the trailer before whatever movie it was I was seeing that day, jaw dropped and eyes bugging out in the darkness. It's one of those movies whose central concept simply demands to be discussed, it's pure and head-spinning sense of oddity demanding one's attention. If the bizarre story wasn't enough, The Beaver also stars one of the least likable famous people on the planet (Mel Gibson), and even he can't be oblivious to the unsettling analogy that the movie is making to his seeming decline into madness. I can't really say that there was any point when I was particularly excited to see the movie, and yet its wholly unfamiliar trappings had me counting down to the day when I could lay eyes on such a uniquely strange piece.

        As previously stated, Mel Gibson stars as Walter Black, a former family man and Toy Company Executive who has fallen into a deep and domineering state of depression. His company is seeing one profit decline after another, his wife (Jodie Foster, also serving as Director here) seems to mostly avoid him, his son (Anton Yelchin) hates him so much that he jots down each similarity between the Two so that he can systematically change those attributes of himself, and he spends most of his days asleep in his bed. But on one fateful night, Walter notices a ratty beaver hand-puppet in a dumpster and, inexplicably, decides to remove it from the trash receptacle and place it on his had. Next thing we know, a TV has fallen on Black's head, and he wakes from being knocked unconscious to a pep talk of sorts, delivered from his mouth, but apparently spoken through the beaver (Don't ask questions, just accept). It becomes clear that this is all that his family and co-workers could have ever wanted, because they all adjust to Black speaking exclusively through the puppet in lightning speed, the beaver making him both more popular and successful than he had been in years.

        One thing that you have to hand The Beaver is that it has no qualms about letting its freak flag fly. It's a feat that one simply must observe as impressive that the film only proceeds to get stranger than the synopsis that I just laid out, Director Foster and Screenwriter Kyle Killen putting every last creepy aspect of the story on display. This might be kind of a spoiler, but I really want everyone to know, even those who have no intention to see the movie, that there is in fact a Beaver-involved sex scene, not to mention a man-versus-hand showdown that harkens back the a pivotal scene of Evil Dead 2. I'm not usually big on spoilers, but I feel alright about this one because... well... I don't really want you to see The Beaver.

        Sure, it's got more courage than all your favorite movies stacked on top of one another, but it's an uncomfortable watch from start to finish, and one that plays like some sort of deranged plea for you, the audience, to give old Jew/Women/World hating Mel one last try. Sure there are some nice scenes of budding romance between Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence, but even they are marred with false-ringing dialogue, uneven acting, and one head-scratching plot twist after another. In a way, I kind of wish that I had liked The Beaver, it being so true to itself through and through. To bad the self in question is one that I truly don't really want anything to do with.

Grade: D

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