Thursday, February 16, 2012

One Minute Review: The Beaver

The Beaver is one of the strangest movies I have ever seen. It's problem is that it's too sophisticated in it's drama, which also means it's not funny enough in it's comedy. It's two different movies melded together with neither part understanding why they are in the same room together.

The idea behind The Beaver, about a man suffering from severe depression helps to find himself again by taking on the persona of a talking beaver hand puppet, is kind of a great one. There would be several ways to take the material: a dark comedy about a man who rebuilds himself from rock bottom to great success through the help of a hand puppet, or an offbeat but endearing indie comedy in the same vein as Lars and the Real Girl or Little Miss Sunshine. But cast Mel Gibson and Jody Foster (who also directs), and all of a sudden the movie is too classy and too sophisticated. It becomes a real family drama which only underlines the inherent strangeness of the beaver puppet in the first place.

But the film, as a serious family drama, although slight, is well shot and acted (it's hard to remember the last modern movie to feature shots that last long enough to comprehend what they are comprised of) and completly checks out, except for the strange concept of this beaver puppet. We just don't buy it from Mel Gibson who has grown through the movies as a persona which is boyish and likable, not unhinged and diluted. And Jody Foster, smart, classy, can't be expected, as this man's wife, to be the type to put up with this quirky nonsense.

So what we're left with are a couple of confused paths this narrative could have followed and the odd curiosity of just who someone thought this movie was going to appeal to? It's too classy to be hip and funny, too earnest to be edgy and alternative and yet too quirky to be taken seriously as drama. If it had just picked a major, it could have been brillant.

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