Let me begin by peremptorily answering the one question most of you may be thinking as you read this: No, I’m not high, and the only thing I’m under the influence of is caffeine.
Mel Gibson is back. That’s right, Mel Gibson, Academy Award-winning Braveheart himself, and the master of drunken tirades, is back! Not only has he returned, he’s teamed up with fellow Oscar-winner Jodie Foster, who also directs, in a movie that looks quite ridiculous at first, and sounds even sillier. From Summit Entertainment comes: “The Beaver.” Yes, that’s its title, and no, it’s NOTHING like that.
Meet Walter Black (Gibson), a chronically depressed, trainwreck CEO of a toy company. He’s so far gone that his wife Meredith (Foster) takes their sons Porter (Anton Yelchin of “Star Trek”), who lobbies his mom to outright divorce him, and Henry (Riley Thomas Stewart) and moves out of the house. His home life in shambles, and his toy business slowly doing down hill, Walter continues to spiral until he finds a beaver puppet in the trash one day. Putting it on, he becomes a live-action Mr. Garrison of sorts, and uses the puppet to work through his problems, including communicating with his family, and introducing a hit new line of toys based on, of course, the puppet.
Mel Gibson. For all the stuff he’s gone through, what a way to make a grand reemergence in Hollywood — in a role that actually showcases his talent. For all of the bravado, bad boy, blow-stuff-up-with-a-grin roles, he has that chick flick club in his bag, and he gets a pretty decent shot with it. I just remind you of “What Women Want” … minus Helen Hunt, though she’s not bad-looking and a decent actress herself, just not in that movie. This movie is going to be portrayed as a mirror of Gibson’s own life struggles, which it is, but this movie is more than that. It’s the movie that Mel Gibson should have been doing all along rather than being drunk and disorderly.
Jodie Foster. Yes ladies and gents, she’s THAT good, both in front of the camera and behind. First, big ups for having the stones to say I want Gibson, no other actor will do. Then give her more ups for directing a movie which — if its given a fair shake in the press, and they don’t go overboard with the Gibson tabloid news alerts — will be virtually guaranteed to be recognized come Oscar time.
Anton Yelchin. To be completely fair, I don’t think it’s a question of his acting ability, I think it’s a question of the role he’s playing. Porter is the stereotypical and overly clichéd “I hate my dad” broody adolescent (dare I say emo?), and given the framework, he does the best he can, it just doesn’t come off as genuine to me. It may also have something to do with the fact that his biggest movie to date is “Star Trek” and visions of him playing a very geeky Chekov are still in my head. It’s very possible I don’t have a serious gauge of him yet as well, and it may be a combination of the three, but it is what it is.
The puppet. Yes, the puppet itself is ugly. Also, the fact that the very first thought I had in my head when I saw Gibson wearing the puppet was of Mr. Garrison. Puppets as a plot device have been mercilessly killed solely because of him. So, while kudos for going that route, and making it seem somewhat legitimate, boo picking an ugly puppet
And now the burning question: Is this movie worth $9 at the cinemas? Yes, with the caveat that you bring a date with you. If you’re flying solo, I’d say no, only because that’s not the kind of movie I’d spend $9 on on a Friday night alone, but definitely go see it as a matinee. It’s completely worth $6, though.
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