Leave It to The Beaver

11 May

It would be tempting to see The Beaver and want to draw parallels between the film’s plot and star Mel Gibson’s last couple years.

After all, the film tells the story of a man who reaches bottom and finds an unusual method of snapping out of it and reconnecting with friends and family. But that would be too easy … and perhaps more importantly, I’ll bet even Mel Gibson, crazy as he is, wouldn’t go so far as to talk through a hand puppet.

Yes, that’s the plot here: Walter, a depressed husband and father (Gibson), finds a beaver hand puppet in a dumpster and adopts it as his sole means of communicating with those around him. (Yes, really.)

Indeed, The Beaver tells a fascinating and sometimes amusing story. And for the first two-thirds of the film it’s actually quite endearing.

Gibson’s tender performance is so good that you can forget about his troubled recent past. Jodie Foster, who also directed the film, Anton Yelchin, and Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence also turn in some nice work.

But then, just as you’ve started to really sympathize with Walter, the film takes a bizarre turn that just about derails it.

Will Walter ever be cured enough to rejoin society without the aid of the puppet?

Will Gibson ever shake his own issues?

Neither answer is clear.

Let’s just hope The Beaver is Gibson’s first step toward recovery. It’s a better-than-expected first step that I’m giving a B–.

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