The Beaver Reviews
For a film about the real problem of mental illness, it never feels authentic. Depression is not something neatly tied up. If this is meant as an allegory, it's vague and unconvincing.
Despite some missteps, this film stands as a moving portrait of a husband and father who reclaims his will to live with the unlikely help of a hand puppet. And the main reason it's so moving? Mel Gibson.
It's unclear what about life or depression Foster and Killen are really saying. A movie about a man hiding behind a puppet is also a story about a movie hiding behind its star.
Mel's character isn't on Prozac, but the movie is -- a succession of bland camera setups, cued to a highly conventional score. Would that the direction were half as nutty as the script or as wacked-out as its star!
Delivers more than it promises-namely a performance that draws on exceptional skill as well as what one irresistibly takes to be the real-life anguish of a movie star whose own life has come to ruin.
As director, Foster, working with Kyle Killen's screenplay, treats the goofy premise with a literal earnestness -- as a family drama about separation and reunion -- that seems all wrong. A little wit would have helped.
That this ambitious, if deeply odd, film is so compulsively watchable is a credit to Gibson's compelling performances, both as spiritless Walter and the Cockney-accented voice of the tireless title character.
If anyone can see past the suggestive title, the oddball premise and the controversial casting of this film, they might be surprised to find it surprisingly tolerable.
Whatever you think of Mr. Gibson, whatever he has lost, he still has talent, and here displays acting of power and resonance. It's a pleasure, for a change, to see the best side of his split personality at work.