Opening 19 May 2011
“This is Walter Black (Mel Gibson), a terribly depressed individual that has gone missing… mostly what he does is sleep…” His family, employees, and friends all wait for him to snap out of it. Teenage son Porter (Anton Yelchin) is disengaged, seven-year-old Henry (Riley Thomas Stewart) is withdrawn and Meredith’s (Jodie Foster) love wears thin; she insists he move out. While moving to a motel Walter finds a beaver hand puppet: this cheeky, Cockney-speaking alter ego revitalizes him, animates Henry, thus reopens the door to Meredith. Only Porter persistently rejects his now crazy-loser dad, particularly when cheerleader Norah (Jennifer Lawrence) takes notice of him.
“This is Walter Black, a hopelessly depressed individual who became a success as ‘The Beaver’…” Walter’s creative energy affects his toy company; subsequently, a toy line based on The Beaver gains phenomenal international success, Walter/the beaver gain fame, and profits soar. On the Today Show with Matt Lauer (himself), Walter becomes uneasy when the beaver monopolizes the conversation: who is manipulating whom? Ensuing events trigger Walter’s tough decision; sometimes, extreme measures are necessary to rectify oneself, and a situation.
Three things overwhelmingly contribute to this film: the originality of Kyle Killen’s script, Jodie Foster’s compelling and empathetic direction, and Mel Gibson’s (forget about his personal life) terrific acting. Gibson effortlessly balances the comic/tragic facets of Walter/the beaver’s personalities. Ardently drawn to the script, Foster depicts depression, as well as its affect on all persons involved, in a natural, realistic method. In union with cinematographer Hagen Bogdanski, production designer Mark Friedberg, and costume designer Susan Lyall, the end result is we empathize with the Blacks’ familial distress, and, there is a point where seeing this guy communicating through a hand puppet is somehow, believable. The Beaver is funny and poignant, respectful of individuals and illness and, a family on the mend. “This is Walter Black, who had to become a beaver, who had to become a father, so that one day this is just a picture of Walter Black”. (Marinell Haegelin)