Hundreds of Beavers Review

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail 0

Even if you watch a thousand movies this year, you won’t experience one quite like Hundreds of Beavers. Mike Cheslik’s film possesses the aesthetic of a black-and-white silent comedy, although it’s hard to imagine Chaplin and Keaton envisioning a project this surreal. The humor also warrants comparison to Golden Age cartoons, delivering the most hilariously tragic protagonist since Wile E. Coyote. There are nods to retro video games as well with our hero exploring a strange land, slaying enemies, and collecting rewards. The film abides by its own rules, drowning out our questions with laughter.

The story is simple, although that doesn’t mean it’s logical. With virtually no dialogue, Ryland Brickson Cole Tews gives a hilarious lead performance as Jean Kayak, a frontiersman left to fend for himself in the wintry woods. It appears everything in this freezing forest has it out for Kayak, including a woodpecker who shows up every time he whistles. Although Kayak endures a majority of the pain, he isn’t always the butt of the joke. Unlike some other long-suffering characters, Kayak slowly but surely adapts to his environment, fashioning a raccoon’s head into a hat.

Now seems as good a time as any to mention that most of the animals are portrayed through the mascot costumes you’d find at a furry convention. Some premises are tailor-made for animation. You could argue that Hundreds of Beavers is one of them. As a pure cartoon, though, the film would’ve been destined to live in the shadow of Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry. As a live-action experiment that mixes practical effects and animation techniques, Hundreds of Beavers is one of a kind. While Kayak also crosses paths with rabbits and wolves, the beavers naturally give him the most trouble.

Recommended:  Back to Black Review

Beaver furs serve as currency in this world as Kayak regularly haggles with a merchant (Doug Mancheski). Kayak also has eyes for the merchant’s flirtatious daughter (Olivia Graves). To win her hand, Kayak must bring the merchant… well, the title bizarrely speaks for itself at this point. At 108 minutes, Kayak’s pursuit of the mischievous beavers can occasionally drag. For every moment that could’ve been trimmed down, though, several others will leave the viewer rolling on the floor with their timing and visual inventiveness. The setup may be ridiculous and the resources are limited. Yet, cinematographer Quinn Hester’s work is surprisingly striking, especially during a third act involving a break-in, a trial, and a great chase.

It’s been over a decade since The Artist won Best Picture with many still sadly viewing silent pictures as a chore. Those who have written off silent movies owe it to themselves to give Hundreds of Beavers a chance. The film can appeal to all ages with the violence being over-the-top yet never gory. Being a silent film, parents don’t have to worry about profanity, one bleeped word aside. For younger audiences, the film can function as a gateway to silent cinema and slapstick, the latter of which also seems to be a dying art. Honoring the past while forging an utterly unique path forward, Hundreds of Beavers isn’t just for fans of silent comedy. It’s for fans of comedy in general.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail 0
This entry was posted in Reviews and tagged , , on by .

About Nick Spake

Nick Spake has been working as an entertainment writer for the past ten years, but he's been a lover of film ever since seeing the opening sequence of The Lion King. Movies are more than just escapism to Nick, they're a crucial part of our society that shape who we are. He now serves as the Features Editor at Flickreel and author of its regular column, 'Nick Flicks'.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.