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Parents' Guide to

The Beaver

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Strange, serious drama is alternately inspiring, appalling.

Movie PG-13 2011 91 minutes
The Beaver Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 18+

Dark, disappointing and dull.

(I'm 18) I just watched this movie with members of my family aged 13+, and I can't say that I would ever watch it again. At first the concept of a split personality being brought to life through a hand puppet was appealing, even charming. It was both intriguing and weird to watch as the Beaver resurfaced a spark of life that was hidden within a character who seemed to be so deeply wrapped up in depression, and used that spark to mend his relationship with his family. However, Jodie Foster seemed to have written herself into a corner once the initial plot had been introduced. Things sort of fell into an unbalanced mishmash after that, and thereafter it seemed as if Foster was trying to compensate for the lack of shock value or emotional depth by peppering the film with bad language, teen angst, violence and a few awkward sex scenes. I found myself hitting a wall any time I tried to connect with Walter emotionally because his depression seemed somewhat unrealistic, even frustrating. I won't include any spoilers in my review, but I will say that the main characters mania comes to a very bizarre pique that eventually crash lands into a gory conclusion - A conclusion that made even my thirteen-year-old brother say, "Uhhh, okay? What just happened?" This movie frustrated me, bored me, and - for lack of a better phrase - "weirded me out". If you were expecting a lighthearted, feel-good movie like I was, prepare yourself for a major disappointment.
age 15+

Surprisingly very good!

I honestly didn't know what to expect from The Beaver, but bought it on a whim and so glad I did! It's a refreshing new take on Hollywood films, without any major violence, sex or language to worry about. A story about a depressed man who gives up on life and everyone around him...until he meets his better half "The Beaver" (kind of like a multiple personality) who is a puppet that guides him through these tough times. If you or someone you know is depressed, you can easily relate to this movie. Kids would be bored I'm sure, but mature teens and adults will most likely appreciate this film. Very watchable more than once and both Jodie & Mel did amazing.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (10 ):

Foster's third movie as a director is nothing if not brave, though what exactly it wants to say and whether it finds the right tone are up for debate. The idea of Gibson -- who, in recent years, has come across in the media as more than a little nutty -- playing a serious character with a talking hand puppet could have been either appealingly outrageous or totally disastrous. But instead the movie comes across as rather safe and sober, with misplaced attempts at humor.

Other characters' reactions to Walter's problem are troublesome, and the media phenomenon behind a successful toy woodcarving kit -- conjured up by the beaver -- rings both totally false and somewhat naive. Oddly, the subplot about Walter's teen son and his quirky relationship with a sad valedictorian is far more compelling than the showier, creepier "beaver" section of the story. Overall, the movie feels like an unbalanced misfire.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: May 6, 2011
  • On DVD or streaming: August 23, 2011
  • Cast: Anton Yelchin , Jodie Foster , Mel Gibson
  • Director: Jodie Foster
  • Studio: Summit Entertainment
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 91 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: mature thematic material, some disturbing content, sexuality and language including a drug reference
  • Last updated: October 8, 2022

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