" The Beaver is almost successful," Roger Ebert writes at the beginning of his review in the Chicago Sun-Times , noting that the movie's premise -- a man fighting depression by projecting himself onto a hand pupper -- is difficult to accept. "Yet here is another of Mel Gibson's fine performances, a reminder that he is after all a superb actor." Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times finds much to complain about the screenplay, but she has no complaints about Gibson's performance. "For those inclined to set aside the actor's alcoholic, anti-Semitic rants and his no-contest plea to domestic abuse (and I'm not arguing for that), there is a sensitive performance to be found, with Gibson creating a sad, sobering portrait of depression." Several critics compare Gibson the man with the character he portrays. "This is the first movie to turn his various meltdowns into pschodrama," notes Wesley Morris in the Boston Globe. Similarly Michael Phillips observes in the Chicago Tribune , "Losing himself in a role rife with discomfiting real-life Gibson parallels, in The Beaver he acts like someone who means it, every moment." Lou Lumenick remarks in the New York Post "This bizarre little movie is all over the place as drama -- but genuinely compelling as a one-of-a-kind piece of public self-flagellation." Indeed, several critics make the point that the only real reason to see The Beaver is to see Gibson. As Rex Reed concludes in the New York Observer "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."