“Hundreds of Beavers” is 5-stars for the right audience

Hundreds of Beavers” restored my faith in the comedic art of cinema.

It's a silent b&w movie that combines a few live-action actors with Terry Gilliam-style animation to tell the story of Our Hero learning to survive and become a competent-enough trapper to win the hand of The Fur-Trader's Daughter.

Then there's some indeterminate number of other live-action actors who dress up in animal costumes to portray rabbits, wolves, raccoons, and, of course, beavers.

A great deal of the movie is animated and -- and this is the amazing thing -- it's golden-age Loony Tunes quality slapstick. Lots of people getting hit in the head by tree trunks, falling into open holes, rolling snowballs of ever-increasing size, etc. But in addition to familiar old gags, there are dozens of new gags.

Now, look, "this movie isn't for everybody" is the understatement of the year. If you don't laugh the first time you see Our Hero beaten down by a bunch of people in raccoon outfits, it might not be the movie for you. Plenty of gags are either familiar or mediocre. There is a plot, but it's beside the point, with lots of repetitive setups to try a new gag or elaborate on an old one (ala the Coyote getting another product from Acme). There's a chase sequence that brings to mind "Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom" that did nothing for me.

But: Imagine seeing the Coyote paint a realistic tunnel for the first time. Imagine seeing knights use coconuts for horses the first time. "Hundreds of Beavers" has gags that approach those level of sublimity. (I'm thinking, in particular, of several of the rabbit gags and snowman gags.)

I haven't laughed as purely in years.