Summer Movie Reviews: Mel Gibson, Jessica Alba, and Harper Lee on the Valley’s Silver Screen

Mel Gibson’s The Beaver, Jessica Alba’s An Invisible Sign, and Mary Murphy’s biopic Hey Boo, about To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee, all have ties to the Hudson Valley

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mel gibson the beaver movie

With Thor and Fast Five tearing up the box office, you know that the summer movie season has officially begun. But if you seek out the little indies — and there’s been a flood of ’em in the past couple weeks — you can find glimpses of local scenery.

Let’s start with The Beaver, the new movie directed by Jodie Foster and starring Mel Gibson. It’s dark and strange, about a man (Gibson) who experiences crippling depression and finds he can rejuvenate his life — if he only communicates through a stuffed beaver hand-puppet. (The bad parts of his personality stay in his human form, he explains, while the good parts are channeled into the puppet. Somehow, this makes him talk like Ray Winstone.) The Beaver’s release ran into trouble when it came to light that Gibson’s suffers from mental illness that no amount of hand-puppets can heal.

In the film, though, his character has a shot, and he tries to give his family the happy suburban lifestyle they deserve. How do you accomplish this? A trip to Playland, of course. The quick, wordless montage-of-fun doesn’t mention the amusement park by name, but it’s unmistakable. The family even goes through the mouth of the Dragon Coaster!

Changes are in store for Playland. I’d say its cameo in The Beaver should help raise its profile — it’s portrayed as a place of family togetherness, bonding, and fun, after all — but that’s only if an audience will bother to go out and see it. Besides the off-screen Gibson drama, the film is dogged with only so-so reviews.

» Read about other summer movies
» Read about Rye Playland’s renovations
» Read reviews of The Beaver starring Mel Gibson
» Read more from the Poptional Reading blog

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Marisa LaScala

Marisa LaScala
Elmsford, NY

Associate Editor Marisa LaScala joined Westchester magazine in 2003, and ever since she's blown every paycheck at the Greenburgh Multiplex. She also staunchly defends Richard Kelly, doesn't mind spoiling the endings of trashy movies you're curious about but don't want to pay to see, wishes the Hold Steady would come back and rock out Westchester, misses Arrested Development more than anyone can imagine, and still watches cartoons and Saturday Night Live. You can find more of her cultural criticism at, where she is a staff writer.



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