Home Celebrity Mel Gibson in “The Beaver”: Dark, Depressing, Hopeless

Let’s forget about Mel Gibson the person for a minute: Oksana, anti-Semitism, the personal church, the crazy father. Well. wait, remember the crazy father. In “The Beaver,” directed by Jodie Foster, the only person on the planet who defends Gibson’s last few horrible years, Mel plays a suicidal father of two. This is not a comedy.

Mel’s Walter Black is determined to kill or hurt himself with no regard for his family. When his wife finally kicks him out, Walter discovers a hand puppet beaver in a trash bin, puts it on his left hand, and start speaking through it in a Cockney accent. For no reason. Walter can now only communicate through the Beaver. At some point he even goes on the “Today” show with Matt Lauer wearing the puppet and speaking this way. “The Beaver” is a downer that goes dangerously too far down to ever come up. Mel Gibson seems more like the actual man we’ve seen in tabloids than the old Three Stooges Mel of “Lethal Weapon.”

Walter is desperate, and Mel conveys that pretty accurately. He’s strung out on depression. Instead of seeking help or drugs, he depends on the Beaver. His wife goes along with this, to some extent. When she realizes the fullness of his mental incapacity, it’s too late. There is self-mutilation. If you didn’t like “127 Hours,” then won’t be digging this. But in “The Beaver,” the violence also marks the jumping of the shark, when this barely coherent film finally tips over.

Gibson strongly delivers the depression. Foster directs herself as a clueless, sort of pinched wife who’s had enough already and doesn’t know what to do next. Who’s good? Anton Yelchin as their teen son, and Jennifer Lawrence as his girlfriend. They’re so attractive and well spoken that they’re a relief from the tedium of Walter’s story. The look of the film–kind of flat, no depth– doesn’t help. Who is “The Beaver” for? Is this Mel’s way of seeking absolution? The subplot is that his son (Yelchin) hates him and Walter hated his own father (who may have committed suicide). Remember Mel’s horrible real father, Hutton Gibson, the Holocaust denier? There’s a lot of resonance there from fiction to reality.

On a personal note, I don’t care if Mel Gibson is good or bad in a movie anymore. I don’t want to see him or hear about him. He’s a bad guy who’s said and done rotten things. Why reward him with money at the box office? Is his performance in “The Beaver” such a big deal? Not really. It’s no daring to act depressed. For Jodie Foster, “The Beaver” shows that, as with her 20 year old “Little Man Tate,” she has an eye. I just wish it fell on more important things.

PS The actual Beaver puppet is one of the ugliest stuffed animals you’ve ever seen.

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5 replies to this post
  1. The Beaver left me feeling depressed. Walter had everything not to be depressed over. He had a loving family and a successful job. The writer failed to show whether it was Walter’s relationship with his father that caused his depression because it certainly couldn’t have been his family of his job. Also losing the hand that held the beaver was a terrible way to get rid of the beaver. It would have been better to have a funeral for the beaver in which his family would attend. He could have shown he finally realized he had something to be happy about rather than taking a roller coaster ride with his family if that was what finally made him happy. The reconciliation with Porter did help, but the ending could have been a whole lot better. Somehow I wonder what Hollywood saw in this movie and how it could ever attract an audience.

  2. So you won’t publish my e-mail? You can’t take any criticism? But it is fine for you to publicly criticize anybody you want? You can dish it out, right, but you can’t take it, isn’t that right Mr. Friedman?

    You won’t publish any e-mails that even offer the mildest criticism of you? What a coward you are!

  3. Any chance he might win some awards? I personally think Mel’s award days are over, but I haven’t seen the film.

    This will probably be his last time on screen if it doesn’t succeed.

    I wonder if his career may continue through directing?

  4. I don’t think Mel Gibson is as reprehensible as Phil Spector and I’ll still play “Be My Baby” and “You’e Lost That Loving Feeling”. But I don’t think I want to see this no matter who was playing the character. (Well – maybe if there was a topless Megan Fox in it …)

  5. Roger, you forgot that Whoopi Goldberg also defends Mel Gibson. Goldberg also defended Roman Polanski and Michael Vick on ‘ The View’. I don’t take her seriously – she is beyond sick . But, Whoopi immediately blasted James Franco & Anne Hathaway for their Oscar hosting , and the New York Times for not listing her Oscar winning name in an article dealing with Blacks that won Oscars after Halle Berry & Denzel Washington won their award ( Goldberg won her Oscar before Halle & Denzel won ). The only reason Whoopi made a big fuss about the Oscars and her Oscar winning name is because she is no longer in demand as a film actress , and she is overly concerned about her film history.

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