Here's a trailer for Jodie Foster's latest directorial work, the long-gestating comedy The Beaver, starring Mel Gibson as an unhinged man who finds solace in a hand puppet. So is this unfortunate timing, or somehow a brilliant accident?
I mean, on the one hand there's the obvious marketing hurdle of Mel Gibson being an insane asshole who leaves terrifying voicemails and hurls antisemitic invective at police officers. To that end, lots of people have written him off forever as a scary lunatic, meaning they won't go see his movies anymore. So, it seems like really shitty timing for this movie to come out, especially because it was on the Black List of desirable Hollywood screenplays for years and had been in the works long before Gibson's latest rageburst. So, too bad, so sad, this movie is bad-luck collateral damage.
But, on the other hand, here's a story about, yes, an unstable, family-ruining man, but look! He gets redemption! By learning from a gruff, no-nonsense creature with an Australian accent. Could we be bearing witness to Gibson working through his own issues? Do we see a pitiable glimmer of his old lovableness in this new penitent, sadsack veneer? The tone of this preview (wistful music and all) and the posters suggest that that's where the marketing team is heading, toward the movie-as-redemption narrative. Which is pretty shrewd and has worked before! (See: Rourke, Mickey.) Though maybe in this case the star's crimes are too unforgivable.
Anyway, the movie itself? Looks decent enough. Jodie Foster playing a regular lady is always a little unpleasant — she's better when doing something scary or weird that offsets the earnest, aw-shucksness of that nerdy voice of hers. (Or, sometimes, she just plays a full-out nerd, like in Contact, and it works.) Young Anton Yelchin is a promising actor who seems to have some meaty stuff to work with here, so that's good. All told, this movie looks like your typical quirky feel-good indie, just one that's disproportionately scrutinized because of its star's bellicose private antics.
Will you go see it, or has Gibson lost you forever?