ⓘ The Beaver (film)
The Beaver is a 2011 dark comedy film directed by Jodie Foster and written by Kyle Killen. A co-production of United States and United Arab Emirates, it stars Mel Gibson, Foster, Anton Yelchin, and Jennifer Lawrence. Marking Gibsons and Fosters second collaboration since 1994s Maverick, it follows Walter Black, a depressed executive, who hits rock-bottom when his wife kicks him out of the house. At his lowest point, he begins to use a beaver hand puppet to communicate with people and overcome his issues.
The Beaver premiered at the SXSW Film Festival on March 16, 2011 and was released in the United States on May 6, 2011 by Summit Entertainment. The film received generally positive reviews from critics who praised Fosters direction and performances of the cast but found the premise absurd. However, it was released around the alleged downfall of Gibson, who had been surrounded with high controversies and criticisms regarding his statements and battery case, the films business was heavily affected, as a result becoming a box office bomb grossing just $7.3 million against its $21 million budget.
Walter Black is a depressed CEO of Jerry Co., a toy company nearing bankruptcy. He is kicked out by his wife, to the relief of their elder son Porter. Walter moves into a hotel. After several suicide attempts, he develops an alternate personality represented by a beaver hand puppet found in the trash. He wears the puppet constantly, communicating solely by speaking as the beaver, which helps him to recover. He reestablishes a bond with his younger son Henry and then with his wife, although not with Porter. He also becomes successful again at work by creating a line of Mr. Beaver Building Kits for kids.
Porter, who gets paid to write papers for schoolmates, is asked by Norah, whose brother has died, to write her graduation speech. He gets emotionally attached to Norah, feeling that she is repressing her desire to express herself regarding her brothers death, but his fathers actions with the beaver puppet embarrass him. When Porter sprays "R.I.P. Brian" on a wall as an attempt to coax Norah to express her feelings about her brother, she is furious, and they are both arrested.
Walters wife moves out of the house with the children because he lied to her about the puppet being part of a treatment plan monitored by his psychiatrist. She feels she can no longer communicate with her husband and that he is suffering from a dissociative identity disorder, with the beaver taking him over.
Part of Walters personality realizes what he has put his family through and wants to get rid of the beaver to get back together with his family, but the beaver resists. Walter finally takes the puppet out of his life by cutting off his arm at the elbow with a circular saw. After surgery, he is equipped with a prosthetic hand and is placed in a psychiatric hospital.
Norah reconnects with Porter. She starts reading the speech he wrote, but stops and admits publicly that she did not write it herself. She switches to explaining the value of truth and the trauma caused to her by her brothers death some years previously. Porter realizes the value of his father and reunites with him at the hospital.
Walter Black becomes himself again and returns to a normal life.
- Cherry Jones as Morgan Newell, vice president of Walters toy company
- Jeff Corbett as volunteer dad
- Jodie Foster as Meredith Black, Walters wife
- Zachary Booth as Jared
- Jennifer Lawrence as Norah, Porters love interest with a secret
- Mel Gibson as Walter Black, a depressed and troubled husband/The Beaver, a hand puppet found in the trash.
- Anton Yelchin as Porter Black, the teenage son of Walter and Meredith who lobbies his mother to get a divorce
- Riley Thomas Stewart as Henry Black, the younger son of Walter and Meredith Black
On a budget of $21 million, The Beaver was filmed in Westchester County, New York and New York City. A portion of the movie was filmed at White Plains Senior High School in White Plains, New York. Filming was completed in November 2009. Before Gibson was hired, Steve Carell and Jim Carrey were both signed on to star at different stages of production.
The Beaver had its world premiere at the South by Southwest film festival on March 16, 2011, where the Los Angeles Times reported that it was given "a relatively warm embrace".
The film had a limited release in 22 theaters on May 9, 2011.
5.1. Reception Box office
Over its opening weekend, the film grossed $107.577. Entertainment Weekly and several media outlets reported that the films box office performance was a "flop" with a haul of only $4.890 per theater against its production budget of $21 million not including marketing costs. Entertainment Weekly compared the box office gross of The Beaver against Mel Gibsons other most recent "box office failure", 2010s Edge of Darkness - which debuted to a per-theater average of $5.615 at more than 3.000 locations - and the box office success of 2010s Black Swan which grossed a per-theater average of $88.863 in limited release at only 16 theaters. The Beaver was the worst debut for a film directed by Foster. The distributor Summit Entertainment had originally planned for a wide release of The Beaver for the weekend of May 20 ; but, after the initial box office returns came in, the company changed course and decided to give the film a "limited art-house run". Michael Cieply of The New York Times observed on June 5, 2011, that the film had cleared about $1 million, making it a certified "flop". The films director, Foster, opined that the film did not do well with American audiences because it was a dramedy and "very often Americans are not comfortable with ".
Before its release, much of the coverage focussed on the unavoidable association between the protagonists issues and Mel Gibsons own well-publicized personal and legal problems, including a conviction of battery of his ex-girlfriend in March. Time magazine wrote: The Beaver is a somber, sad domestic drama featuring an alcoholic in acute crisis. Sound familiar, almost like a documentary? It’s hard to separate Gibson’s true-life story from what’s happening onscreen."
5.2. Reception Critical response
The Beaver received mixed reviews from critics, with review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reporting a score of 61% based on reviews from 171 critics and an average rating of 6.1 out of 10. It reported the consensus, "Jodie Fosters visual instincts and Mel Gibsons all-in performance sell this earnest, straightforward movie." At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 61 based on 32 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Roger Ebert gave the film 2 1/2 out of a possible 4 star rating, saying, The Beaver is almost successful, despite the premise of its screenplay, which I was simply unable to accept."