The Beaver

Rated 2.0

But isn’t it just like Jodie Foster to not realize or care that directing and co-starring in a film called The Beaver is sort of an icky move for her, and that a puppet-wielding, Cockney-jabbering Mel Gibson in the lead role just doesn’t help matters? That willfulness might be animating; instead it sucks out all the air. With the habitually earnest Foster as his dismayed wife, the habitually actorly Gibson plays a morbidly depressed CEO who tries talking himself back to life through the eponymous plush mouthpiece. Other bearers of twee psychological wounds include Anton Yelchin as the bright but disappointed teenage son and Jennifer Lawrence as his valedictorian-cheerleader-and-secret-graffiti-genius girlfriend. With screenwriter Kyle Killen succeeding only at sucking up to her, Foster makes a strange spectacle of her affinity for smart young people and of her Gibson loyalism. Notwithstanding an apparent dream come true—the cameo as self—for Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, what’s most disappointing here is that a complete train wreck was possible, but this is merely mediocre.