Dir. Mike Cheslik (2022)
An applejack salesman must fight off, well, hundreds of beavers in order to become America's greatest fur trapper.
One of the things I've struggled with while running this site is my propensity to err on the side of positivity when reviewing a film. I have certainly seen bad films, both of my own accord and because they have been sent to me to review. Nevertheless, I try my best to respect the work and the artistic integrity of a film that someone worked tirelessly to put in front of an audience, even if the film itself didn't quite work for me. My biggest concern, however, is not being overly positive, but rather how that positivity may affect the integrity of my reviews to those who read them. Today, these concerns come full circle, because I am legitimately worried that those who are familiar with my own work will underestimate just how fucking awesome this movie is.
Hundreds of Beavers tells the story of an applejack (a type of old-timey liquor) salesman turned beaver trapper named Jean Kayak (Ryland Brickson Cole Tews) who is desperate to win the affection of a merchant's daughter (Olivia Graves). Her father, the local merchant (Doug Mancheski), demands hundreds of beavers as the price for his daughter's hand in marriage, and it is up to the industrious Kayak to work his way up the chain to becoming the best fur trapper in the world in order to accomplish his goals. As he traps and kills animals throughout the wilds of Wisconsin, Kayak must continually come up with ways to best his furry foes in order to win the hand of the love of his life.
An impressively original combination of slapstick humor, immersive cartoons, and utterly hilarious physical comedy, Hundreds of Beavers is perhaps the most unique film I've ever seen. And that's not a bad thing. It's a movie that will likely have a hard time finding an audience, as it's difficult to sell a movie that is essentially a live-action cartoon, but this is a film that is well worth the investment and suspension of normal tastes in film. It's a movie that's hard to describe because you've never seen anything quite like it before, and quite a few members of its audience won't make it through the first five minutes. The bizarre nature of what's been created here is arthouse cinema at its absolute best, and while that won't be everyone's cup of tea, those who can lighten up and enjoy the ride will likely find a movie they'll never forget.
Irreverent, hilarious, and like an almost two-hour Bugs Bunny cartoon come to life, this is one that should not be missed by anyone. Hundreds of Beavers is side-splittingly funny, and I can honestly say that I don't think I've laughed this hard at any movie I've ever reviewed for this site. Tews delivers one of the best comedic performances I have ever seen, leaning into the slapstick and giving an acting performance that should win him awards wherever this film plays. The direction by Mike Cheslik, who previously edited Tews' own directorial debut Lake Michigan Monster, is phenomenal, and the utilization of everything from puppetry to animation is nothing short of incredible. It is very difficult to find a single flaw with the film, because it is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.
If I had one critique for the film, it's that it's far too long for what it is. At almost an two hours in length, the runtime alone will turn a lot of people off. That said, I'd like to say that it could be trimmed by maybe twenty minutes, but I cannot for the life of me tell you which twenty minutes were not worth including in the finished product. Telling this story from start to finish, with each bit building upon the last, I firmly believe that anyone who actually gives this movie a shot will wish that it was perhaps even twenty minutes longer. It is exceedingly rare that I come across a film that I will shout from the mountaintops, but this one is all that and more. If you are a fan of comedy, arthouse, or whatever-the-hell-this-film-is, I cannot recommend it enough. It's not horror at all, but what it is is damn good.
Who this movie is for: Comedy fans, Avant garde film lovers, Dam builders
Bottom line: It's only January, but this may be the best film I see all year. Uproariously funny from start to finish, Hundreds of Beavers worked on every single level and is definitely one that you should seek out. It's going to be showing at select theaters across the country, and I highly recommend checking out https://hundredsofbeavers.com/ to see if it's playing at a theater near you. This one is worth the price of admission and then some: it's been years since I've laughed so hard at a movie. Hugely recommended for anyone who could use a good laugh.