The Beaver Trilogy (2001)

The Beaver Trilogy is an unusual beast. Directed by Trent Harris it is, as the title may suggest, a trilogy of short films. None of which feature actual beavers. Okay, there’s the city of Beaver, but still… I was expecting beavers. Filmed over the course of six years, each film centres on Olivia Newton-John impersonator and seeker of fame, Groovin’ Gary; a real resident of Salt Lake City who Harris met whilst trying out a new colour news camera.

The first third introduces us to Groovin’ Gary via the footage filmed by Harris. Gary is a word a second guy slipping from one impression to the next. His desire to be famous spills out of every nervous twitch and glance at the camera. The fact that he seems so nervous makes you wonder whether he truly has what it takes or whether he’s just so excited that he sees a spur of the moment interview in a car park as his big break. Harris later goes to the titular Beaver, Utah to film Gary perform as an Olivia Newton-John tribute act in a talent contest. It’s here we see how serious Gary is to be famous.

The next two thirds are two films, again directed by Trent Harris, that take the original premise of the preceding ‘documentary’ into two different directions. The Beaver Kid 2 is a dramatic interpretation staring Sean Penn as Groovin’ Larry. Whilst Crispin Glover dons the moniker Groovin’ Larry in the comedy, The Orkly Kid.

The Beaver Trilogy is more of an art house project than a true feature film and all three movies vary in quality; literally and figuratively. As it has never had an official release due to licensing problems (DAMN YOU OLIVIA!), the main selling point seems to be seeing Crispin Glover and Sean Penn dressed up as women. To be honest, this was the main selling point of To Wong Foo as well.

For me, there’s something morbid about about it all. Groovin’ Gary’s desire to be famous has come to fruition but it seems to be at the expense of his modesty. I’m genuinely interested to know what old Gary thinks of this. And whilst I can protest the point of this film, I’m half sure that if Gary does know about this film, then he’s probably happy with the results. After all, it’s not everyone who gets Sean Penn to play them in a film.


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