Immersed in the world of 1980s animation, my affection for Looney Tunes transcends mere fandom — it became a cherished cornerstone of my childhood. Amidst the cacophony of vibrant characters and uproarious escapades, the timeless rivalry between Wile E. Coyote and the elusive Road Runner stood out as a beacon of comedic brilliance. I reveled in the sheer ingenuity of Wile E.’s contraptions, each meticulously crafted in his never-ending pursuit of the elusive bird. From rocket-powered roller skates to elaborate traps sprung with the precision of a mad inventor, every harebrained scheme unfolded in a symphony of slapstick chaos, leaving me in stitches with each viewing.

What truly set the Road Runner cartoons apart was their unique presentation as silent films — a departure from the typically chatty shorts of the era. With only the sounds of footsteps, ricocheting anvils and exaggerated reactions punctuating the desert landscape, the absence of spoken words lent a universal appeal to the comedic antics. This silent-yet-uproarious storytelling style captivated my imagination, showcasing the unparalleled artistry of animation, reinforcing the notion that laughter transcends language barriers (even when a word was not spoken). In the timeless chase between predator and prey, the Road Runner cartoons became a testament to the enduring power of visual humor, leaving an indelible impression on my appreciation for the art form.

It appears that I wasn’t alone in my affection for this brand of slapstick humor. Filmmakers Mike Cheslik and Ryland Brickson Cole Tews, both relatively fresh faces in the industry, shared the same adoration for these beloved cartoons. They were inspired to not only capture the essence of these classic cartoons, but also to transpose them into the realm of live-action comedy. Oh, and throw in a bunch of animal costumes. The result? A film aptly titled Hundreds of Beavers.

Taking place within a wintery world, the protagonist, Jean Kayak (Ryland Brickson Cole Tews), is a traveling applejack salesman, braving the bitter cold to make sales to the citizens of this frozen wilderness. Soon Jean finds himself dealing with the animals that also inhabit the woods. At first, he does all he can to ignore them, but when hundreds of beavers show up and start tormenting him, Kayak will stop at nothing to put an end to his mischievous furry foes, and possibly win the affections of a local merchant’s daughter (Olivia Graves).

Hundreds of Beavers review

If Cheslik and Tews aimed to capture the essence of Looney Tunes cartoons, they undeniably achieved their objective with flawless precision. In Hundreds of Beavers, the spirit of the classic animation resonates vividly. The hapless Jean Kayak continually finds himself tumbling into mysteriously appearing holes or unwittingly attracting the attention of a persistent woodpecker with his whistling. While these examples merely scratch the surface of the film’s comedic repertoire, attempting to list them all would prove both futile and unjust, as there are just so many moments.

The film’s ability to maintain its absurdity is where the film shines, while upholding an ability to stay somewhat grounded in reality — a feat exemplified in moments like Jean deliberately stepping on pinecones to elicit a pained, elongated yell, much like what happens when I step on one of my daughter’s Legos. Cheslik and Tews keep the gags interesting, as well as elaborate.

Much akin to the ingenious schemes of Wile E. Coyote, Jean Kayak devises a series of seemingly brilliant traps in his quest to capture the mischievous beavers. Initially, his contraptions are rudimentary, fashioned from little more than boxes and tree twigs. However, as the film unfolds and his desperation to quell the antics of the rambunctious rodents intensifies, his traps evolve into elaborate Rube Goldberg-like devices.

Fueling Jean’s pursuit is his desire for revenge and his aspiration to impress the merchant’s daughter by presenting her with the finest beaver pelts.

Yet, reminiscent of the antics between The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, the beavers are remarkably cunning adversaries, perpetually outsmarting Jean at every turn. With a mischievous twinkle in their eyes, they effortlessly evade his traps, leaving him to grapple with the consequences of his own inventions. One can easily envision this scenario unfolding amidst a Saturday morning cartoon lineup, with echoes of the iconic “Beep Beep” of the Road Runner accompanying Jean’s futile pursuits, culminating in his inevitable plummet over the edge of a cliff.

The artistic choices behind Hundreds of Beavers hit the bullseye with precision. The film unfolds entirely in grainy black and white, seamlessly blending live actors, performers in animal costumes, stop-motion animation and various other techniques to amplify its comedic impact. Dialogue takes a backseat, as the film relies heavily on expressive grunts and growls to convey the emotions of its characters. The meticulously selected score feels like a direct homage to the animated adventures that inspired the film, punctuating each scene with punchlines that complement the visual humor flawlessly. While dismissing the film as mere novelty might be tempting, the seamless fusion of diverse elements leaves an undeniable impression of craftsmanship and innovation.

I give Hundreds of Beavers a flawless five out of five stars. The movie occupies a unique intersection of revered influences, drawing not only from the Looney Tunes legacy, but also from classic slapstick luminaries such as Monty Python and Benny Hill. This absurd escapade stands as a testament to the harmonious marriage of modern technology and timeless techniques, effectively enriching the cinematic world with fresh innovations.

In its entirety, Hundreds of Beavers emerges as a genuine original, boldly carving its own path within the landscape of comedy cinema.