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The Beaver (2011)



Average Rating: 6.1/10
Reviews Counted: 172
Fresh: 104 | Rotten: 68

Jodie Foster's visual instincts and Mel Gibson's all-in performance sell this earnest, straightforward movie.


Average Rating: 6.7/10
Critic Reviews: 44
Fresh: 29 | Rotten: 15

Jodie Foster's visual instincts and Mel Gibson's all-in performance sell this earnest, straightforward movie.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 23,257

My Rating

Movie Info

Jodie Foster directs and co-stars with Mel Gibson in The Beaver - an emotional story about a man on a journey to re-discover his family and re-start his life. Plagued by his own demons, Walter Black was once a successful toy executive and family man who now suffers from depression. No matter what he tries, Walter can't seem to get himself back on track...until a beaver hand puppet enters his life. -- (C) Summit


Drama, Comedy

Aug 23, 2011


Summit Entertainment - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (174) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (104) | Rotten (68) | DVD (6)

It's a bummer of a movie -- dark and at cross-purposes with both itself and any image do-over [Gibson] might be seeking.

October 7, 2011 Full Review Source: The Wrap
The Wrap
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Beyond the initial idea, this is kid gloves filmmaking, when what we need is a bit more of the gloves-off stuff.

June 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The acting throughout -- Foster, Lawrence, Yelchin -- is superb, and this may well be Gibson's finest performance, just as it's Foster's most balanced job of directing.

May 20, 2011 Full Review Source: Detroit News | Comment (1)
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film is amusing, then melancholy, then weirdly funny, then not. It's a quiet, measured work.

May 20, 2011 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

With The Beaver, Gibson shows that for all his personal turmoil, he still may have a career in the twilight years.

May 20, 2011 Full Review Source: Associated Press
Associated Press
Top Critic IconTop Critic

For a film about the real problem of mental illness, it never feels authentic. Depression is not something neatly tied up. If this is meant as an allegory, it's vague and unconvincing.

May 20, 2011 Full Review Source: USA Today | Comments (7)
USA Today
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Thinks it's a whimsical tale of a man finding himself, but Gibson thinks it's the tale of a man losing his mind.

June 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Deadspin

Jodie Foster's The Beaver had its moments, but the overall premise just didn't fly. I just couldn't buy the idea of the talking puppet.

June 2, 2013 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

Mel Gibson's last hurrah

January 14, 2013 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

A unique and thoughtful project that showcases a charming, as well as unconventional, character journey -- and one of Gibson's best roles to date.

October 2, 2012 Full Review Source: ScreenRant

The device of the beaver is a constant distraction from what is otherwise a compelling tale of a man and family in crisis.

February 4, 2012 Full Review Source:

Sthn trith ths skhnothetikh apopeira, h Jodie Foster akomh den exei piasei thn ennoia toy rakor, alla ayto einai to mikrotero ap' ta problhmata mias dramenti poy pairnei to thema ths katathlipshs arketa elafra, gia na thes na thn aytoktonhseis

September 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

Moviegoers probably won't be interested in seeing Mel Gibson in an onscreen train wreck that reminds them so much of the mess he's made of his real life.

September 9, 2011 Full Review Source: American Profile | Comments (7)
American Profile

Put the puppet back into the dumpster.

August 20, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinema Signals | Comments (3)
Cinema Signals

Aside from having a title that turns me into a puerile, sniggering teenager every time I talk about it, The Beaver is a heartbreakingly good movie.

August 11, 2011 Full Review Source: The Mercury
The Mercury

Se maneja en el filo entre la comedia absurda y el drama lacrimógeno, una combinación no siempre efectiva. Dentro de un buen elenco se destaca el intento de Mel Gibson por volver a los primeros planos.

August 5, 2011 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total | Comments (2)
Uruguay Total

The Beaver makes for a creative portrayal of mental illness, and of family life around those who live in the dark, reaching a fine balance of drama and comedy.

August 5, 2011 Full Review Source: Moviedex

Jodie Foster's The Beaver is a film about mental illness that, refreshingly, isn't like most films about mental illness.

August 3, 2011 Full Review Source: MovieFIX | Comment (1)

Mel Gibson is quite wonderful as Walter and it's to Foster's credit that she is able to balance the serious with the bizarre so convincingly.

August 3, 2011 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

The Beaver is one of the strangest and most inconsistent dramas in recent years.

August 3, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinema Autopsy
Cinema Autopsy

This is a wholly wasted opportunity for Gibson -- and a disappointing misfire from Foster.

August 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald | Comments (2)
Sydney Morning Herald

It is a totally manufactured product, this film, completely free of sincerity and reality

July 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile | Comments (2)
Urban Cinefile

There's a strong and positive sub-text to the story, offering a depth of understanding to an often considered subject that is taboo. But whether audiences will buy Gibson talking with the hand is another question

July 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile | Comment (1)
Urban Cinefile

A heartfelt and compassionate portrait of mental illness.

July 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune

Jodie Foster invites us to laugh at this guy who talks through a puppet, then scolds us for doing so.

July 5, 2011 Full Review Source: Film Snobs | Comment (1)
Film Snobs

Audience Reviews for The Beaver

Firmly directed by Jodie Foster and with a heartfelt performance by Gibson, this is an interesting drama about a depressed man suffering from schizophrenia and projecting part of his personality into a puppet. Even so, the script is unfocused and has an easy, sappy conclusion.
August 2, 2012

Super Reviewer

Thanks to Foster's directing, there is a superb balance between a serious drama and a dark comedy. This makes 'The Beaver' both an enjoyable and emotional movie. Along with strong performances by Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster, this film really does make you aware of how easily depression can have an impact on families. Overall 'The Beaver' shows that Foster still makes a promising director, along with Gibson still capable of having a strong leading role.
July 17, 2012
Samuel Riley
Samuel Riley

Super Reviewer

What a surprise! I was not expecting to like this movie, but I did. Quite a bit! Very quirky. Rather dark. Some well placed humor, at times..but mostly sad, touching, and very well done. Jodie Foster is an exceptional director, in my opinion. The whole thing even made me forget that I dislike Mel now. He did a great job, I have to admit. It must have taken a lot of courage to attempt a comeback in a quirky movie like this. I think that he pulled it off quite well....
July 7, 2012

Super Reviewer

A film that features a man communicating through a hand puppet of a Beaver must be a comedy, right? Well, partly so - how could it not be? And yes, the film does have some moments that make you smile, but this Jodie Foster directed film is far deeper; deftly exploring clinical depression in a sober, and somber way.

Mel Gibson stars as a man suffering from depression. It's gotten to the point where he is literally sleepwalking through his life. He has given up, as all the little foibles and trials of daily life seem insurmountable to him. His wife, also played by Foster, still cares for him, but has distanced herself in an act of self preservation - which is part of Mel's problem. Everywhere he may step in attempting to fix the problem is a minefield, so he takes an avoidance tactic to the nth degree by emotionally and physically (by sleeping long and often) withdrawing from his own life.

This film shows, in spite of his public outbursts, that Mel still has serious acting chops. His performance is measured - over the top when necessary, and powerful in its silence, where much is conveyed by a raised eyebrow or sideways glance. In an act of desperation after a suicide attempt fails, Mel creates an alter ego - a hand puppet of a beaver who has this wonderful Manchester accent. Mel expertly flips between the two personas, with each being distinct and easily discernable, and totally believable that they coexist in the same mind.

Mel's struggle of trying to get his life back - reuniting with a family that he has, in many ways, betrayed by his actions, is meaty enough, but in an interesting move the film also tells a parallel story of Mel's eldest son, a bright high school senior who detests what his father did to the family and detests himself as he sees many of his father's mannerisms in himself - chief among them being the moodiness and glass half empty outlook.

While we see Mel's adult struggles in trying to reconnect and find some kind of joy in the adult world of work and family, his son Porter is equally at war with the expectations of high school. Foster does a nice job flipping back and forth between the two, drawing not only the parallel of father and son, but pointing out that, while they each have different crosses to bear, in either case life ain't easy.

As Mel tries to reconnect with his wife, son Porter takes interest in a cheerleader and class valedictorian, who, in spite of appearing to have the world as her oyster, has her own demons to deal with - and this becomes the central theme of the film... we all have our crosses to bear, and as the valedictorian speech makes clear towards the film's close, "there are 6 little words that our family and friends tell us - and those 6 words are lies... no, everything is not going to be alright!"

One might think that the use of a hand puppet is a mere contrivance, but I found it to be totally believable: a physical representation of multiple personality disorder, or just the wars we all have within ourselves as we try to cope. In creating the Beaver, Mel's character is giving control of his life to his self created alter ego - which is typical of MPD patients. As the alter ego becomes more successful, Mel gives it more and more control, until the real and lesser personality becomes almost non-existent. Finally, a war between the two parts of his psyche takes place - and all the early humor disappears, making the film a poignant drama.

In an interesting bit of allegory, the company that Mel inherited from his father is called Jerry Co. If you're up on the book of John in the bible, concerning the war of Jerico - only by absolute obedience to God was the city of Jerico delivered to Joshua - which echoes Mel's situation - only by giving himself over to his alternate personality, the Beaver, can he achieve success and reinstall himself in the real world. In a manner of speaking - Mel must let the Beaver be his god.

I'm reminded of the sign that used to hang over the door of John Larroquette's office on his old TV show (which also dealt with depression and other mental demons): "Life is a dark ride".
June 19, 2012
paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

    1. Norah: So, while everything may not always be okay, one thing I know is true: You do not have to be alone.
    – Submitted by Eizen B (20 months ago)
    1. Meredith Black: I came to the party late, but I have never seen anything else that was me, as close as me.
    – Submitted by Kirk T (2 years ago)
    1. Walter Black: People seem to love a train wreck when it's not happening to them.
    – Submitted by Chad E (2 years ago)
    1. Walter Black: Starting over isn't crazy. Crazy is being miserable and walking around half asleep, numb, day after day after day. Crazy is pretending to be happy. Pretending that the way things are is the way they have to be for the rest of your bleeding life.
    – Submitted by Chad E (2 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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Foreign Titles

  • Der Biber (DE)
  • Le Complexe du Castor (FR)
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