Hundreds of Beavers

Hundreds of beavers
Hundreds of beavers
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It is obvious that the last film from Mike Cheslik’s collection is a comedy. This thing here is simple. Determining, however, where it fits specifically among other comedies can be another matter altogether and definitely not for the fainthearted. But if there is some sinister amalgamation that encompasses Looney Tunes’ fast-paced frenzy; Three Stooges’ visual slapstick comedy; and The Lobster of 2015 which captured moments of absurd science fiction, then I will like to know about it. Well, a few such references do encompass some of this unusual 1900s narrative but Hundreds of Beavers is so much more than that in its 147 minutes running time.

Inception director, Ryland Brickson Cole Tews stars as protagonist Jean Kayak in Hundreds of Beavers-another avant-garde comedy he directed and wrote- following his appearances in Lake Michigan Monster (2018) and L.I.P.S (League of Interplanetary Process Servers) (2016). This inept salesperson was enjoying himself serving clients and singing sweet songs for all but now finds himself surrounded by snow knee-deep on what seems like a dreamlike cold winter landscape with nature itself against him. All he does at present is to move along his path mapped out on grizzled old man’s map trading kills for supplies from him mostly because his daughter Jean wants her attention. No one tells the audience anything because they are thrust into countless nonsensical jokes that seem to continue forever throughout Various Beavers.

Apart from Tews who also co-wrote the screenplay, this bizarre small cast contributed greatly in creating an oddball world. Nevertheless, no character ever asks why most of these “animals” actually look like individuals inside mascot outfits or how beavers are able to construct giant fortresses within an ice pond. In these mountains solely dwells one merchant named Doug Mancheski who takes pride in his ability to accept beavers with cotton insides and exchange the bodies for real tools like ropes or bear traps.

The furrier (played by Olivia Graves) is always situated behind her father’s storehouse, which is separated from the rest of the backyard. With old movie magic, she can make cotton insides look like tasty meat. Also, at one point in time somewhere there, as a way of testifying to Hundreds of Beavers’ unique sense of humor, she just out comes up with a stripper pole.

They are also joined by Wes Tank and Luis Rico playing master fur trapper and Indian fur trapper respectively. Those two love affairs are going on as well due to this surreal environment featuring human-like animals: a dog sled-driven sleigh and a horse mode transportation. They hunt like their lives depend on it — unresponsive to visual gags. Everything that appears cartoonish reveals itself as intricate but so much funnier.

This makes the viewer concentrate on the moving entities, Jean and otherworldly personalities who live here only because of the simplistic outdoor environments in which everything is happening. While ambitious, these visual add-ins that include thoughts’ and feelings’ speech bubbles or faces floating in space indicate where unseen beings are located are sometimes overdone and detract from every character’s innate comic talent. In such an open space with subdued color like this, real liveliness is appreciated.

The plot departs from the common clichés and tropes usually associated with a black-and-white silent movie and the formalities that surround it for once because “As Hundreds of Beavers” plays out all its inspired silliness and theatrical gags. Once he gets into this new world, Jean quickly adapts to how to survive there, and so his traps swiftly become highly smart Rube Goldberg machines you can’t take eyes off.

Moreover, there are also some other fun unusual subplots that oddly come out of video games customs too. He fills up every scene on a map while exploring the world as our lovely salesman turned into all-around-nature-man later using such places to catch beavers better. Even though it seems as if ridiculousness serves as rules of this movie, Jean also undertakes a hero’s journey which is strangely satisfying to witness. At first he always falls down on his snow-covered face because he keeps failing at whatever he tries to accomplish due to extreme clumsiness. This visually funny thing happens first several times (the occurrences differ), but when it occurs again and again it turns into slower pacing.

When he actually starts succeeding by bringing his trophies back home to collect bigger rewards for hard work done, then Jeane should know that regardless of what happens next nobody will regret watching this film any longer than before. Furthermore, Tews does not let go of being fanatical throughout filming himself nailing his character completely. Every event that takes place causes him to have a sincere reaction mixed with awe. The third act brings about surprising implications that develop through certain nuances the cast puts into their characters and sound design which substitutes anyone’s voice easily. Suddenly Jean has to choose and his decision is what turns this otherwise hilarious story into more of a heartfelt one – where viewer gets reminded of a real world for just a moment.

Though sometimes the storytelling schematics are nonsensical, it still manages to find time in order to deeply blend child’s play with adult fantasies whatever they involve; be it selfish or moral correctness. Some of the things these animals with fur do can be described as pure craziness, but this movie is not just man vs. beaver so that you never want it stopped. When you watch Hundreds of Beavers, don’t ever take your eyes off of Ryland Brickson Cole Tews or Mike Cheslik because those two share such an inventive synergy when creating collaborative comedies like this one.”

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