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Hundreds of Beavers


Stars: Ryland Brickson Cole Tews, Olivia Graves, Wes Tank, Doug Mancheski, Luis Rico

Director: Mike Cheslik

Cheslik, the director of this madcap misfire, has obviously overdosed on too many Wile E Coyote films, and not in a good way. A mixture of cartoon and live action, filmed in black and white in the wilds of Wisconsin, the action pits a drunken applejack salesman (Tews) - his company is actually called Acme - against the wildlife of the region as he faces starvation in the wilderness.

Much of the first half of the film is wildly unfunny as he tries to trap rabbits, fish and raccoons and has a go at pinching a woodpecker's eggs. Every time he whistles in admiration at the eggs and licks his lips, the 'pecker returns to drill his head into oblivion. He does turn this situation to his advantage in the later stages. Unfortunately the sight gags are almost all too clumsy to work - plus the cartoon-like rebounds on our central character's head can work at eight minutes, but flounder at 108.

The film picks up in the second half, though, when what there is of the plot kicks in, as the salesman attempts to kill enough beavers to win the daughter (Graves) of the local fur station manager, only succeeding in winning an assortment of 'prizes' (a pipe, a rope, a rifle), before outwitting wolves and invading the beavers' stronghold in an attempt to retrieve the mountain of beaver pelts that will win him the girl.

The animals are all played by guys in cloth animal outfits, which you may may not like, but the stop-motion action of the beaver factory chase is well done, and has echoes of Chaplin's Modern Times. Almost without dialogue, the whole thing, whose ingenuities are seldom matched by the execution, resembles something that might indeed, have been made in the 1920s.

David Quinlan

USA 2022. UK Distributor: Lightbulb. Black and white.
108 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 03 Jul 2024