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IN SHORT: Portrait of a man in the midst of a total schizophrenic breakdown. [Rated PG-13. 91 minutes]
Walter Black (Mel Gibson) is the Chief Executive Officer of a toy company called Jerry Co. Walter inherited the reins as CEO from his uncle, who should have left the company to a more capable VP (Cherry Jones). We don't know what his life was like before the CEO gig; whether he was even with or knew the ins and outs of the toys biz, etc. We're assuming he knew at least something. What he does know is that he has cracked under the weight of his responsibilities. He suffers from a depression so deep that no therapy, no pill, no miracle cure is available to relieve him of it. He has taken anti-depressants by the fist full to no avail. So Walter avails himself of a time tested out. He loses himself in booze, buying it by the carton.
As The Beaver begins, Walter is lugging a carton of the "good stuff" from the local liqor store out to his car, only to find his trunk full of stuff; the usual accumulations of a regular American family. So Walter grabs a bunch of said stuff and lugs it over to a nearby dumpster. In the dumpster he eyes a puppet -- the beaver of the film's title -- and decides to take it home. Said "beaver" is an easy pick up. In no time it's got Walter naked and in the shower and, uh, let's just say they both get a good cleaning.
Walter hits rock bottom, somewhere in a motel room where he does not have to get out of bed. So the puppet, in an East London accent so thick you could slice it and sell it in a loaf, cusses the man out and gets him out of bed. Walter returns to home and hearth; wife Meredith (Jodie Foster) assumes he has returned to psychiatric treatment with a never seen Dr. Macy.
Still, there's this puppet on his left hand. Without it, Walter cannot communicate. With it, well, stranger things have happened in America.
While this heavy drama played out on the big screen in front of us we realized the piece for what it really is. The Beaver is a radio play. Seriously. Every time Walter loses touch and switches to his alternate persona as The Beaver, shut your eyes. Even as the scene progresses and his character goes back and forth, you can follow it perfectly. That's radio. It's the kind of thing that would have found a welcoming home, and some acclaim, across the pond in England. The film, though, is an American product (yea!) and properly tries to show the effect of this crackup on a loving family.
Youngest son Henry (Riley Thomas Stewart) just happens to like his newly normal dad. Henry likes Walter -- that's the name of the beaver puppet -- too. Eldest son Porter (Anton Yelchin) puts as much distance as he can between himself and anyone else in the family. Porter, a high school senior, has built his own thriving business making big bucks writing term papers for his fellow students. Porter doesn't just write the papers, as he'll explain to a client called Hector (Michael Rivera), he infuses a sequence of papers across the course of the term to reflect the personality of the client. That's clever customer relations!
The strangest request Porter gets is from the class valedictorian (Jennifer Lawrence), who needs a commencement speech and pays Porter the big bucks for it. He asks 500. She would've paid 1000. Kid needs to think big.Their relationship pays out all the while Meredith tries to hold the rest of the family together as her husband cracks and breaks to peces in front of her.
And that's the basics of the film that no one is going to see 'cuz of its star's bad behavior. There. I said it. And I watched The Beaver and y'all won't.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Beaver, he would have paid . . .
Dead at release.
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