Mel Gibson as Walter Black
Cherry Jones as Vice President
Jodie Foster as Meredith Black
Anton Yelchin as Porter Black
Jennifer Lawrence as Norah
Riley Thomas Stewart as Henry Black
Zachary Booth as Jared
Kelly Coffield Park as Norah’s Mom
Michael Rivera as Hector
Kris Arnold as Waiter
Matt Lauer as Himself
Directed by Jodie Foster
Audio Commentary with Director Jodie Foster
Everything Is Going To Be O.K. – Featurette on the making of The Beaver
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Sound
Running Time: 91 Minutes
The following is the official description of the film:
“Walter, once a successful and happy family man, has hit rock bottom. But, in his darkest hour, he finds a rather unusual savior: a beaver hand-puppet that takes over Walter’s life in an attempt to change things for the better.
Academy Award® winner Jodie Foster directs and co-stars with Academy Award® winner Mel Gibson in a film critics call bold, complex, and funny.”
“The Beaver” is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, some disturbing content, sexuality and language including a drug reference.
Thanks to Mel Gibson’s tumultuous personal life, any movie he stars in comes along with excess baggage. You can’t watch anything he does without thinking of all the stupid things he’s done in real life. But as I watched “The Beaver,” I found myself slowly forgetting about that and just seeing the character. You start feeling bad for Walter, cheering him on when he starts getting better, and you get hooked on the film wanting to see how his life turns out. That being said, though, as Walter fights with his wife, nearly commits suicide in a drunken stupor, and generally sinks deeper into an emotional mess, you still occasionally get pulled out of the movie and the story’s narrative and think about Gibson’s latest antics on TMZ. So as good as Gibson is in the role, I’m not entirely sure whether he is an asset or a liability to “The Beaver.” Probably both.
One thing I can definitely say is that the premise of “The Beaver” is pretty outlandish and in any other hands it might have been a complete disaster. After all, it features a man walking around with a potentially evil Beaver puppet on his hand. Yet somehow Foster, Gibson, Yelchin, and Lawrence make it work. It ends up being not only a portrait of a man sinking deeper into psychosis, but a look at his family, too. Why does a family stick with someone this far off the deep end? How do they find the strength to deal with someone that doesn’t want to be helped? How do they continue to give them second and third and fourth chances? If anything, Meredith and Porter are the true heroes of this story and it’s almost more about them than Walter. And despite the dark material, the story ultimately has a good message and a happy ending thanks to them.
Besides Gibson’s performance, the rest of the cast is excellent. Jodie Foster does double duty as both director and co-star as Meredith. You might expect her acting to suffer because her focus is split in so many directions, yet she still manages to do an excellent job. You see her at first appalled by the Beaver puppet, then accepting of it when she starts to get her life back because of it. You certainly identify with why she’s happy to have everything back to normal, even if it’s with a puppet at the center of everything. Anton Yelchin is good as Porter Black, Walter’s frustrated son. He has great chemistry with Jennifer Lawrence as Norah. They’re both tortured souls who help each other overcome their troubles. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the nerd and the most popular girl in school could like each other, but these two make it believable.
If you like psychological dramas, family dramas, or black comedies then you’ll probably enjoy “The Beaver.” Fans of Jodie Foster, Yelchin, and Lawrence will like it, too. And any of Mel Gibson’s remaining fans will probably like it as well. Gibson loves playing tortured souls in the movies as well as in real life, and this falls in line with that.
The Blu-ray is a tad light on bonus features. You get an audio commentary, two brief deleted scenes, and a ‘making of’ video.