The Beaver Trilogy is an unusual beast. Directed by Trent Harris it is, as the title may suggest, a trilogy of short films. Filmed over the course of six years, each film centres on Olivia Newton-John impersonator and seeker of fame, Groovin’ Gary who Harris met whilst trying out his brand new colour news camera back in the 70s.
The first short introduces us to Groovin’ Gary via the footage filmed by Harris. Gary is a word a second kind of 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 excitable that he sees a spur of the moment interview in a car park as his big break. Later, Harris travels to Beaver, Utah to see Gary perform as an Olivia Newton-John tribute act in a talent contest. It’s here we see how serious Gary is in his pursuit to be famous.
The next two thirds are two short films, both 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 starring 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, the main selling point for some will be seeing Crispin Glover and Sean Penn for drag.
For me, there’s something morbid about it all. In a sense, Groovin’ Gary’s desire to be famous has come to fruition through the film, 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.