by Daniel Baldwin
Earlier this year, quirky auteur Wes Anderson gifted us Asteroid City, which is probably best described as “What if Looney Tunes did its own take on Close Encounters of the Third Kind and then poured it through a theatre kid filter?” Some folks found that off-putting, as though Wes Anderson had gone a bit too Wes Anderson for them. Others, like me, found it to be an utter delight. Such a movie was one I never pictured myself needing, yet when it was finally presented to me, I could no longer picture myself living without it.
What does this have to do with Mike Cheslik’s Hundreds of Beavers? Nothing, and yet also everything. This is not Asteroid City, nor should it be. What it is, however, is the answer to the question “What if Looney Tunes did its own take on Jeremiah Johnson and then poured it through a silent movie filter?” I’m not sure who – outside of those who made it – asked for this movie. But I’m glad they did, because for the second time this year, I have been gifted an absolutely lunatic slice of cinema that I never knew I desperately needed.
Not everyone is built to appreciate a movie where a buffoon wanders around a cartoonish wilderness landscape full of animals that are portrayed either by people in mascot suits or puppets. Similarly, not everyone is built to appreciate such lunacy when it feels like it was made by mad scientists who Frankenstein’d together a plushy beast composed of parts from Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Buster Keaton, Terry Gilliam, and the Keystone Cops. This is darkly violent, yet deeply comedic work that blends a love for classic cartoons and early cinema history together into an inspired near-masterpiece of a film. I say near only because it becomes a bit too indulgent during some of its lengthier set pieces, causing the pace to sag a bit at times. Well, that and maybe utilizing an anvil at some point would have also been nice!
Hundreds of Beavers is a gift. It’s one that some might want to return, but by
God Bugs Bunny, it’s one that just as many are bound to cherish for the rest of their lives. This lunatic included.