The movie has its world premiere tonight at the festival, but at least one festival-goer will be skipping it. Here's why.
When SXSW first announced it was holding the world premiere of The Beaver, there was some talk that its troubled star, Mel Gibson, might appear at the screening. That has since died down, and no one seems to be expecting him tonight, but I suppose there's still a chance he'll show up.
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Not that anyone particularly wants him to. I certainly don't. I'm skipping The Beaver (which was directed by Jodie Foster, who also stars in it, along with Winter's Bone's Jennifer Lawrence) tonight, for the same reasons I suspect others ultimately will whenever it is finally released in theaters. (It's been pushed back again to May. Gibson is reportedly working out a plea deal with the LA district attorney's office on charges of battery against his ex-girlfriend.) The film completed shooting in the fall of 2009. Here's why I'm keeping Beaver out of my festival diet:
1. I Have Something Better To Do.
The placement of The Beaver premiere in the SXSW festival schedule is a bit curious. At this point, almost all of the screenings at the film festival have already had their first or second run, and there are no high-profile premieres left except for music films. In a way, The Beaver was buried, and missed the festival's opening weekend attention that went to films like Source Code, Super, Paul, and Bridesmaids. On top of that, tonight is the opening night of the SXSW music conference, which means there are hundreds of bands playing across town tonight, many of them for free, with gratis food and booze to boot. Right now, for instance, Jack White is playing a pop-up show in front of record store school bus a few blocks away.
And tonight, there are several other films up against The Beaver that I'd rather spend my time with, the first being Attack the Block, an "inner city versus outer space" action adventure that has been getting a lot of praise here at the festival. Another is Michael Stipe presenting a selection of videos that accompany R.E.M.'s new album, Collapse Into Now. Or there's A Year in Mooring, Hesher, El Bulli: Cooking in Progress. Sure. they've all already screened a few times and don't have the star power of Gibson's new film, but ...
2. The Beaver Just Looks Awful.
Even if you don't have something better to do, the trailer for The Beaver might convince you that scrapbooking on a Friday night isn't such a bad thing:
Annoying narration aside (Gibson's character "is a hopelessly depressed individual," the voice tells us, as if the visuals and dialogue hadn't already made it clear), the trailer seems to spell out the entire plot of the film: Man gets depressed. Man loses family. Man finds talking beaver puppet. Beaver puppet sounds like Michael Caine. Beaver puppet leads man to redemption, with some important father/son issues dealt with along the way. I doubt The Beaver is completely terrible. It's got a respected writer, Foster as a director and a lead, and what could be a decent story, even if the trailer seems to give it away. But that story fits in a little too well with Gibson's troubles (excepting the hand puppet part), which leads to the last reason to avoid The Beaver...