The Beaver (2011) [3/10]

The Beaver (2011)

Director: Jodie Foster

Cast: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Jennifer Lawrence

My Rating: ★1/2, or 3/10

In Short: A muddled, pointless mess; a failure at all it attempts

Jodie Foster’s The Beaver was a film I didn’t expect to be that bad. I was surprised how wrong I was. Despite a promising opening, the film quickly disintegrates into a muddled, pointless mess. The story of a man’s attempts to reconnect via a hand puppet is only momentarily acceptable, and is quickly exaggerated to incredible proportions, turning the film into a laughing stock of misguided, awful scenarios that provoke only regret, and deep sadness for a film that is intended to be serious, but comes across as nothing more than absolutely idiotic.

Released to a curious but bemused festival crowd, The Beaver was doomed from the start. Before people had even seen it, jokes were being cracked about the buzz around “Jodie Foster’s beaver”. The film was also toted as a ‘comeback’ of sorts for disgraced actor Mel Gibson, but it only embarrasses the actor, who gives – Cockney accent aside – one of the worst performances of his career. The film was also intended to have a strong and powerful message for those suffering from mental illness, depression or other such afflictions, but seems to give those aspirations up quickly enough. The Beaver is a failure at all it attempts, and the only reason I’ve given it more than one star out of five is that its intentions are so good-natured that its stunning how terribly wrong they’ve gone.

The actors all know how to act, but are ridiculed by uninspired direction from Foster and above all, a pitifully disgusting script. Watching it, I recalled seeing The Help only a week earlier; both films are goddamn fucking awful, and weren’t even kind enough to allow me to fall asleep. The only major difference between the two is the length: The Beaver is thankfully short, as its plot premise involving the eponymous puppet really goes nowhere, and a completely irrelevant subplot involving Jennifer Lawrence as an intellectual cheerleader who enlists Mel Gibson’s son to write her a speech is useless and serves only to consume time; its conclusion, the reading of the speech, is riddled with clichés and ignorance, and makes for only a pathetic end to a pathetic film.

This is a film that implodes from the inside, caving in until all that is left is dirty, dusty rubble. The shallow performances, which include Gibson’s playing of two equally disturbing characters, Foster’s portrayal of a housewife that sees her playing the same old tired middle-aged woman with virtually no changes or inspirational additions, and Lawrence’s portrayal of the intellectual cheerleader that I very much doubt exists in any form in the real world, are particular lowlights. Perhaps the most insulting scene in the movie is a “three-way” sex-scene montage that is unintentionally hilarious, and kind of sad at the same time; it almost certainly belongs in a different movie altogether. And there is of course the climactic plot twist two-thirds of the way into the movie, which involves Gibson mutilating himself, which too belongs in a completely different film and is a more painful experience for the audience than the character.

As you may have picked up on, The Beaver is a terrible film that trips over itself constantly trying to be better than it is. I still cannot believe I expected it to be good. The plot premise involving the puppet is not dumb, it’s fucking idiotic. The Beaver is a movie that I cringe thinking about, and a sure sign that for Gibson, a comeback is yet to arrive and for Foster, the Oscar on her shelf seems like a distant memory. Trying to find a redeeming thing about this pile of shit is like trying to find hay in a needle-stack: painful, long, boring and, even if the hay is there, pointless.

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Posted on February 27, 2012, in Movie Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Interesting review and a good read.

    I’ve yet to see The Beaver but I really would like to. I’ve heard much negative things about it but also a reasonable amount of praise as well.

    • It’s a very frustrating film with little redeeming qualities. Safe to say it does not get my recommendation, but I can’t say for certain others will feel the same way.

  2. I remember your tweets about this one…was not expecting a positive review

    Also, i watched Certified Copy recently. It was…odd

  3. I enjoyed your drunken, live-Tweeting for this film far more than I enjoyed the actually movie. Fucking disaster.

  4. Gibson has a Cockney accent in this? I did not know that!

    Thanks for posting this, Tyler. I’d like to see it, not least because it’s an interesting concept and Foster’s directorial debut, but I’m already expecting it to not quite hit the mark.

    • Actually the Beaver has the cockney accent, but Mel Gibson does the voice.

      It misses the mark completely. “The mark” does not exist in this film’s vocabulary.

  5. Disagree but not entirely. I think most of you hate comes from the fact you were expecting more from something that was offering less. The puppet concept being the crux of the story was not to your liking ergo you’re not going to enjoy the film.

    You said the three-way sex scene was ‘unintentionally hilarious’ which I think sums up the issue. I think it is intentionally played for laughs as is the entire puppet plot device. Now you are right in saying it does not do well making light of mental illness but metal illnes is again a plot device to allow the puppet not the crux of the film. The main theme that drives the story arc is ‘you have to face your problems/demons’ – not the most original nor though provoking concept which is why I can agree with you that the film lacks depth.

    The film is played out as a dramady, I think that is your biggest issue concerning the tone and content in which you were expecting something more heartfelt or truthful.

    I honesty was disappointed too with the film. I had been waiting for its release for a long time and had built it up in my mind. I was disappointed overall but not enough to get on the hate bandwagon. I think it is just an ‘average’ film but it was still entertaining enough to give it a 5/10 but a second viewing later in time will be essential to give a true rating.

    I can often be too generous with my initial ratings but I have a gut feeling that this is my true perception of the film (maybe even underselling it) but to give this a 3/10 makes me very curious as to what you would rate truly terrible films – and I have seen some shockers. You may have to go into negatives in the future to justify this in comparison.

    Oh, loved the plot twist though. It was needed to give the film some actual punch.

    There used to films I hated with passion such as yours but over time and with enough variety in viewing you tend to start to forgive a little more. It is easier to see the negative aspects of a film than it is to try and see it through a different perspective, especially once you’ve experienced a lot of ‘high art’ films.

    I think if you find some ‘technically’ or ‘critically’ bad films that you really enjoy and embrace then you’ll start watching films in a different way. If you already have a few of these ‘guilty pleasures’ I would love to know what they are.

    May I also comment on your stereotyping of cheerleaders. -_-

    • Where to begin? I’m not going to reiterate what I dislike about this film, because I did that in my review, but I will stand by my statement that it is pathetic for so many reasons. I hated, hated, HATED it.

      Nice comment though, it forced me to think more carefully about a lot of what I’d written. Love your comments, man.

  6. THANK YOU for this review. I just watched The Beaver and could not believe Jodie Foster would do this movie. I would expect a rank amateur idiot to consider directing this film and/or starring in it. It should’ve decided on some direction, comedy, dark comedy, fetish sex film, or horror/thriller…it tried all of the above.

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