Combustible Celluloid Review - Hundreds of Beavers (2024), Mike Cheslik, Ryland Brickson Cole Tews, Mike Cheslik, Ryland Brickson Cole Tews, Olivia Graves, Wes Tank, Doug Mancheski, Luis Rico
Combustible Celluloid
Stream it:
Download at i-tunes iTunes
With: Ryland Brickson Cole Tews, Olivia Graves, Wes Tank, Doug Mancheski, Luis Rico
Written by: Mike Cheslik, Ryland Brickson Cole Tews
Directed by: Mike Cheslik
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 108
Date: 02/23/2024

Hundreds of Beavers (2024)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Dam Fools

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Where to begin with Hundreds of Beavers? After an opening musical number it turns into a silent-era comedy combined with an extended Looney Tunes cartoon, but more surreal (a little Jan Svankmajer thrown in). And in black-and-white. It has brilliant sound design; characters make sounds that indicate ideas and emotions, but rarely speak actual words. Its visual design is equally brilliant; it's hard to know where the humans on the screen end and the green screen stuff begins. It made me think a little of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, but way more bonkers.

It concerns Jean Kayak (Ryland Brickson Cole Tews), who builds a hard apple cider empire, but sees it all come crashing down when he starts to drink all his inventory. He finds himself starving in the frozen wilderness, and begins trying to trap animals to eat. He's terrible at it, but over the course of the movie he gets help, he learns, and he improves. We watch as his traps get cleverer and cleverer, sort of like Buster Keaton meets the Road Runner, but way weirder. At a trading post, he trades his meager catches for better and better tools, and, at the same time, falls in love with the merchant's daughter, a furrier (Olivia Graves).

The Merchant (Doug Mancheski) tells him that the price for his daughter's hand in marriage is "hundreds of beavers." This leads to an incredible showdown at the Beaver's headquarters, a high-tech dam; think Modern Times meets Fantastic Mr. Fox, but way more off the rails. My first thought when I encountered this movie was "how does it keep up this level of slapstick craziness for what seems to be an insane running time, 108 minutes?" The answer is "no problem, thanks." Director Mike Cheslik, who co-wrote with star Tews, demonstrates a unique vision, the kind of — dare I say it — original movie that rarely comes along, and he does so with absolute confidence in his concepts and techniques. At times there are so many things flying at us that we may miss something, but that's what second viewings are for.

Movies Unlimtied