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The Beaver Trilogy Reviews

Reviewed By: Jason Buchanan

An enthralling character study of a true outsider and a man whose simple goal in life is to entertain no matter what the cost, Trent Harris' The Beaver Trilogy offers three accounts of the filmmaker's encounter with a remarkable individual known as Groovin' Gary. Beginning with the real-life chance encounter between the self-proclaimed "Rich Little of Beaver" and news cameraman/filmmaker Trent Harris, the friendly impressionist offers up his take on John Wayne and Sylvester Stallone before admitting that his true passion, and best impression, is Olivia Newton-John. Harris next takes up Gary's offer to attend a local talent show, and after he dons his wig and makeup, Gary's performance of Newton-John's "Please Don't Keep me Waitin'" may well be one of the most captivating displays of painfully embarrassing sincerity ever presented onscreen. As the talent show draws to a close and Groovin' Gary bids audiences farewell, viewers next see the familiar parking lot scene from the beginning of the film. This time featuring Sean Penn as the fame-craving impressionist (now named "Larry"), the story is presented once again with the noted addition of continuing to explore Larry's depressed reaction following the small town's negative reaction to his performance. As Larry takes their criticism to heart and pleads with the filmmaker not to air the footage, one can't help but detect a slight mean streak in second installment as the film seems at times to make fun of Larry instead of simply observing him as did the first film. Though Penn does a decent job at recreating Groovin' Gary's mannerisms and voice, one can't help but feeling as if he and the director were cracking jokes at the real Gary's expense between takes. Once again returning to the parking lot for the final installment in the trilogy, viewers bear witness to the same story acted out one final time, this time with actor Crispin Glover taking the role of Larry. Where the second film leaves the distinct impression of mean spirited mockery, Glover's sympathetic embrace of the outsider in Larry (in addition to his remarkably uncanny portrayal of Groovin' Gary) lends the film the perfect balance of mockery and affection. It's OK to laugh at Larry this time around, and in fact, it's what he wants most. Though the negative reaction of the townspeople once again momentarily crushes Larry's spirit, the final scene leaves the viewer with the gratifying feeling that the joke's not on Larry, but on those unfortunate enough not to get the joke.