Beaver Trilogy Part IV

Directed by Brad Besser

Starring Trent Harris

A chance meeting in a parking lot in 1979 between filmmaker Trent Harris and a young man from Beaver, Utah inspired the creation of an underground film that is now known as Beaver Trilogy. But the film itself is only part of the story.


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  • ★★★★½ review by Austin Wolf-Sothern on Letterboxd

    I remember telling a friend once that she should borrow my video of The Beaver Trilogy, and she was like, “uhhh, no thanks.” But geez, get your mind out of the genitals, perverts, the “Beaver” in the title refers to Beaver, Utah!

    I first saw, and fell in love with, The Orkly Kid in the 90s when I was collecting all things Crispin Glover, and bought a bootleg VHS on eBay. I had no idea it was actually the third time the movie had been made, and was originally a documentary about a charismatic kid in Beaver going by the name Groovin’ Gary. It was a delight to see the rest of the trilogy a few years later, and subsequently fail when trying to recommend it to people. It certainly sparked a lifelong adoration of Olivia Newton-John for me, particularly the album Totally Hot, which has the song "Please Don’t Keep Me Waiting" on it, and is one of the best albums of all time.

    This doc mostly covers the career struggles of filmmaker Trent Harris (who also made the brilliant Rubin & Ed), digs into why he kept developing this short and why he added the darker elements, and also finds out what became of Groovin’ Gary. It’s pretty interesting, and I was moved by the end, so it was definitely satisfying as a long-time fan of the films.

  • ★★★★★ review by Stephanie on Letterboxd

    This surprised me wonderfully. My brain went to a place where I assumed "Bill Hader narration" + "a modern documentary on no-budget cult films" could be too ironic to stand, but thankfully this thing is full of a heart that erratically beats back and forth between deliriously fun artistic expression and genuine heartbreak.

    An aside: I also think this is a great film for Mormons or those who are Mormon-adjacent and feel marginalized should see. The "Beaver" is Beaver, Utah, see. I'm a non-Mormon who attended BYU, and I live in Vegas (which attracts lapsed and ex-LDS like Michael Mann to neon), and I was surprised with how much of the film focused on the original actor feeling ostracized by his how his art was taken in by his community and showing the impact of that on his family.

    The film acknowledges the WOW BABY SEAN PENN AND CRISPIN GLOVER, but the true star will always be RICHARD GRIFFITHS aka Groovin' Gary, who looked like Patrick Swayze while managing a charm all his own.

    So don't fear a smirking take on this; even if you have no idea wtf The Beaver Kid is, this is worth your time if you love movies and documentaries.

  • ★★★½ review by Lorenzo Benitez on Letterboxd

    A curious, impartial documentary about individuality, existential purpose and appreciation of artistry in all its forms, no matter how belated.

  • ★★★★★ review by vhs_vampire on Letterboxd

    I did not know what I got into with this one. I'd advise to go in blind, don't look up anything about this, consider its potential to about anything.

  • ★★★★ review by Peter Valerio on Letterboxd

    When I saw The Beaver Trilogy it left a bad taste in my mouth. The first part was a short documentary about a guy, Groovin' Gary, who wanted to be an entertainer. It felt a little exploitative. The second and third parts were dramatic remakes of the short with Sean Penn and Crispin Glover playing Groovin' Gary. These felt more exploitative.

    This film tries to make sense of the The Beaver Trilogy, and it is remarkable. The focus is primarily on Trent Harris, the director of the original films, but there is also a good bit looking for Groovin' Gary.

    You should definitely look for The Beaver Trilogy before seeing this.

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