This certainly wasn't the first time this has happened to me. In terms of a weird concept rooted in an otherwise realistic movie, the film really reminded me of Henry Poole is Here....which coincidentally also happens to be a favorite of Kim's. (Sorry Kim....I just couldn't get into either of these.) Sometimes an overly weird concept just puts you off from embracing something (Also Henry Poole put me off because the neighbor character was just too irritating and I, like the main character's first impression, saw her as more delusional than faithful). I don't know what exactly it is. I often love movies that combine some realism with off the wall ideas...Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Big Fish, TiMER all did this to an extent (and even the cat narrator movie I'm dying to see, The Future messes around with similar weird concepts)...but in those films when it was fantasy it was expected you knew it was completely a fantasy concept...the audience gets that. It's the weird stuff being embraced as reality that perhaps I don't love...that disbelief I just can't suspend.
Then alternatively, it's funny how a film with such a similar concept to The Beaver can turn into something that is actually really likable and insightful: Lars and the Real Girl. I remember after seeing that movie that if I tried recommending it to anyone by explaining the plot, I definitely had to choose the right words. But the gimmick of that plot is a means to an end that explores deeper issues....and while The Beaver seeks to explore issues too....for me it never overcomes its gimmick....it is just a bit too inseparable from it....don't ask me why. In fact...Roger Ebert's review is right on with how I felt...and I'm going to quote the end of what he has to say. Beware spoilers:
"What sort of movie would have resulted with the same characters but not the Beaver? We will never know. But without "The Beaver," we would never have witnessed a sexual threesome involving a hand puppet. Foster and Gibson must have gone through some serious times while making this film, but don't you suppose that while filming that sex scene they had to suppress the urge to giggle? That is the fatal flaw in this sincere endeavor. As good as Gibson is, his character is still caught between the tragedy of the man and the absurdity of the Beaver. Fugitive thoughts of Señor Wences crept into my mind. I'm sorry, but they did. "As I said, I completely agree. Too hard for me not to be fully aware of the gimmick at all times. But still...you could probably do worse for entertainment these days...but you can definitely do better. I liked the cast a lot, and the side story of the son's character held the most interest to me. Like Ebert said...it's a shame you can't see the cast in a different film minus the beaver. But at least the two young leads I can see together again. I'm excited to see Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence reunite for Like Crazy. They had some great chemistry here and I hope they brought it to their second project as well.
Anyway boys and girls...the moral of the story is that the movie has to be as good as its concept...and the concept can't be too outrageous...otherwise the audience just won't want to suspend their disbelief. And then where will you be? Probably a beaver puppet in a dumpster...that's where. I give The Beaver 5/10 beaver puppets, purely for the efforts of the cast.