March 29, 2012

I Saw Jodie Foster's Beaver...

I have long admired Oscar winner Jodie Foster, who hasn't appeared much on screen in recent years except in crap like The Brave.

As her movies sink quietly, Foster lost some respect as she stood by Mel Gibson, the homophobic misogynistic anti-Semitic superstar who got into all kinds of trouble over the past few years.

Last year Foster released The Beaver, which she directed and costars in. The movie was controversial, mostly due to Gibson starring, and also due to is name, and its unusual subject matter. It bombed in theatres and is now available on Video on Demand (VOD).

In The Beaver, a troubled husband and executive adopts a beaver hand-puppet as his sole means of communicating. Walter is a depressed guy who after failed suicide attempts to distance himself from his pain by communicating through the beaver which he imaginatively names "The Beaver". Foster is his passive doormat wife who was kicking him out until he crossed into the puppet zone and then weirdly takes him and the talking puppet back. Uh... why?

Walter's beaver strategy works at first, as it jumpstarts Walter's marriage, sex life and work life. Why? It didn't make sense to me, and the movie didn't give me info enough or make me care enough to believe. And really who needs to see Jodie Foster, Mel Gibson, and a puppet in bed together? Or in a shower? Trust me, that is a three-way no one wants.

The movie's one interesting subplot features Star Trek's Anton Yelchin as the couple's nerdy son and Hunger Games' Jennifer Lawrence as the cool girl at school he falls for. They come across as real teens with real issues. And they are 100% puppet-free!

This movie didn't fly, and it wasn't just the Mel Gibson is an asshole thing. The main character is not sympathetic, he is kind of a douche, and Foster has totally miscast herself as a passive wallflower. When the troubled Walter suddenly becomes a pop culture phenomenon, appearing in GQ and on The Daily Show, I had to wonder if they are laughing at him or is he actually striking a nerve somehow? Not only does the film not answer these questions, it skates over the whole thing.

And did I mention the puppet is mean? Like verbally abusive mean. And in one scene sort of physically abusive. And it has a bad Downton Abbey wannabe accent.

The best dramas have you care about the characters, and balance out the tragedy with some levity. Aside from the troubled teens, who Foster the director really seems to have a feel for, I didn't care about these characters, and there was no levity at all. This may have worked under a better director with a better screenplay... or maybe not.

If you are looking for a movie on VOD this weekend, skip The Beaver; see The Descendants or What's Your Number? instead.

And seeing as I chose this one, I need ideas... what should I watch next?