Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Video review: "The Beaver"
"The Beaver" is an imperfect movie with an imperfect star, Mel Gibson. But the film rises above its shortcomings to become a genuinely compelling journey of one man's descent into mental instability, and how he rises out of it with the unlikely help of a ratty old hand puppet shaped like a beaver.
Gibson plays Walter Black, CEO of a toy company whose life has come off its rails. He can't even speak to his wife and kids, and mostly dodges work to lay about in bed. But he finds his voice again -- figuratively and literally -- when he starts using the Beaver to speak for him.
Others aren't accepting at first, but when he reveals that it's a prescribed therapeutic tool, people soon accept the reinvigorated Walter, even if he comes with a sidekick straight of bad cable access television.
What I liked most about "The Beaver" -- which combines elements of both tragedy and comedy -- is that it takes real risks. Director (and co-star) Jodie Foster and screenwriter Kyle Killen are working outside of familiar Hollywood tropes, refusing to put the story and characters into neat little boxes.
For example, just Walter seems to have emerged from his swirling vortex of self-hatred, his psyche becomes unhinged again. He does something so extreme, it's likely half the audience will be turned off.
But for those willing to stick it out, "The Beaver" is a redemptive story told with off-kilter charm.
Video extras are a bit on the underwhelming side. The goodies are the same for the DVD and Blu-ray editions.
There's a feature-length commentary by Foster -- which would've been so much more interesting if she could've been paired with Gibson -- a making-of documentary and a handful of deleted scenes.
Movie: 3 stars out of four
Extras: 2.5 tars