‘Hundreds of Beavers’ Movie Review: A Bizarrely Brilliant Comedy Classic You Have to See

Every so often, a movie comes along that is so unique, original, and sometimes wildly bizarre that they’re almost indescribable; there’s not much out there to compare them to. For instance, trying to explain to someone what A24’s Everything Everywhere All At Once is like or even the Noah Baumbach film White Noise on Netflix, they’re almost in a cinematic category unto themselves. The new film Hundreds Of Beavers surely would fall into its own category, and I’ve never seen anything quite like it. 

The closest thing I could compare it to would be one of the Monty Python movies combined with a bit of Robot Dreams. I say Robot Dreams because the film contains virtually no spoken dialogue. Its language-devoid script means the film is based exclusively on visually based storytelling. 

Beavers is simple and clear to follow; it’s all black and white; the simplicity of the plot and style of silly humor work well for kids and adults. This is no high-concept, incredible piece of cinematic art. But it is smarter than one may give it credit for at first sight. While it is goofy, zany, and just plain insane at times, it’s also an incredibly fun, delightful, and often hilarious little movie that completely surprised me. You’ll be hard-pressed to find one, let alone Hundreds Of films this year, that are as fantastically entertaining as these wild and wacky Beavers.

[Editor’s note: There are mild spoilers ahead for Hundreds of Beavers.]

Ryland Brickson Cole Tew in Hundreds of Beavers - Still 1
Ryland Brickson Cole Tew in Hundreds of Beavers. Image courtesy of the filmmakers.

The Story of Hundreds of Beavers

We open the film with some Gaelic music and see a quote from St. Augustine, which reads, “Lord grant me chastity . . . but not yet.” The film’s first half periodically inserts these quotes for comedic effect, yet I noticed no throughline in the messaging. The shot of rolling hills off into the horizon appears, and animated leaves fall as the camera slinks down, and we begin to see myriads of apple trees. 

The opening song lyrics begin, and we hear a bunch of manly voices singing about Jean Kayak (Ryland Brickson Cole Tews) and how he makes cider ale from his apples. The opening shot of Jean, again in black and white, is a live-action shot of him walking, yet the background trees full of apples are animated, like Space Jam or Who Framed Roger Rabbit? where cartoons and live people interact. We watch as he collects his apples, makes cider from them, and then finally produces the ale that cartoon woodsmen, traders, and farmers from near and far come to enjoy.

Hundreds of Beavers - Still 2
Still from Hundreds of Beavers. Image courtesy of the filmmakers.

The entire introduction to this 19th-century set, black and white, backwoods story is done via a musical sequence. As the song continues, the cartoon men are shown raising their glasses and toasting Jean. They call the ale “Applejack” and sing the praises of the one who’s produced the delicious drink they’re enjoying. 

On a hill above the large orchard of apple trees are two large barrels, and after a hoorah of a song, as the visiting men leave, a beaver hops out of a wagon full of beaver skins and climbs the hill. He chews the support beams for the large barrels of booze approximately the size of houses. As Jean dances on top of a barrel donning a funnel-style headpiece with tubes of beer running into his mouth, the one barrel’s support beam finally collapses and begins rolling down the hill. It collides with a building that has a large apple-shaped sign above it saying “Jean Kayak’s ACME Applejack.” The building explodes, and all the trees in the orchard catch fire. The song ends, and we’re left listening to the flames; everything except Jean himself we’ve seen so far are cartoon drawings.

Hundreds of Beavers - Still 3
Still from Hundreds of Beavers. Image courtesy of the filmmakers.

If you haven’t clued into the absurdity yet, this film resides completely in the realm of zany shenanigans, and I’ve only given you a slight nibble of all the ridiculous places this film goes. The next thing we know, Jean finds himself out in the cold, buried under the snow somehow. He digs himself out to find his precious orchard, which has burned, and he’s left with nothing. 

As he walks towards his giant apple sign, he suddenly falls down a hole in the snow with a plop; the film’s sound effects are all comical and highly animated. The scene cuts in a flash, and we’re thrown into a sequence of Jean trying to start a fire; the film’s quick edits give the film a sort of frenetic energy. He manages after trying a few different ways to get a fire going, but the wind keeps blowing it out. So, finally, he falls on the coals to keep warm through the night, but he awakes on fire in the morning and must pull on a branch to bring a pile of snow down on himself to extinguish the flames. 

But it’s not too long before he gets hungry; he spots a rabbit and, while looking at it, pictures a chicken drumstick in his head. Alas, his stomach growls loudly, and the rabbit runs away. Now, when I say “rabbit,” I don’t mean an actual rabbit, nor a cartoon rabbit, but a full-sized human wearing a rabbit costume that doesn’t look like a real rabbit, but like a Disney park costume cutesy rabbit with big eyes that a little girl would run up and hug. 

As Jean travels around, he encounters a wide variety of these costumed animals, such as wolves, dogs, raccoons, skunks, and, of course, beavers. But soon, he finds himself learning the ways of a trapper, and he must uncover all the secrets of the beavers to win the hand of a young lass he sets his eyes on. This zero-to-hero story has surprises and wacky moments at every turn that are sure to keep young and old giggling, chuckling, and thoroughly amused through to the finale.

Hundreds of Beavers - Still 4
Still photo from Hundreds of Beavers. Image courtesy of the filmmakers.

Hundreds of Beavers is a Marvel of Ingenuity

This film is really quite a marvel of ingenuity in a few key areas. First is the creative yet complex production design that repeatedly blends the live action with cartoons. How this film was put together and edited and how some of these images were made is pretty staggering to think about. 

The second would have to be the humor. This film is cartoonish, not only in how it blends animation with live action but in its comedy and basically everything about the narrative story. Although the slapstick humor won’t be to everyone’s taste because there’s hardly any dialogue, the visual storytelling is based exclusively on all kinds of visual gags and jokes like falling in holes and animals getting hit with clubs. An aspect of the film’s incredible creativity comes from the humor; just when one of the film’s shticks begins to wear out its welcome, it adapts, heads in a new direction, and finds a different approach to its laughs. 

This really seems like a film that would’ve been released a hundred years ago, again referring to the creativity involved; I can’t think of anything I’ve ever seen that is quite like this film. Hundreds Of Beavers was surprisingly long for the type of movie it was. There were a couple of points when I started to disengage with it ever so slightly, but then, as I mentioned, it would take a turn, and I was back on board. And I kid you not that this film is so bizarre and comical that repeatedly, upon writing this review, I just began to crack up laughing recalling various parts. 

The sound design was simple yet effective in taking us through the frolicking adventure, the bonks, splats, and whistles, all things you’d hear in a Saturday morning cartoon. When I tell you this is one of my favorite films so far for 2024, that’s not saying much because I’ve only seen a handful of movies. But I really wouldn’t be surprised at all if this film managed to stick around on my favorites list and make my Top 10 movies of 2024. Hundreds of Beavers is that good.

Final Thoughts on Hundreds of Beavers

The frenetic fun and energy this film begins with and builds on as we’re getting into the first act only picks up momentum through the rest of the films runtime. Even with a few slight issues I had with the film’s comedic bits and pacing at moments, in the end its ingenuity and creativity won me over completely. Hundreds of Beavers just wasn’t enoughI kept wanting more.

Hundreds of Beavers is available on digital and now playing in limited theaters.

Find out more information at the film’s official website.

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