Inside Out 2009: Beaver Tale
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Inside Out 2009: Beaver Tale

Watch Olivia Neutron-Bomb explode all over the screen. Photo courtesy of GAT Productions.

Although it technically opened last night, today is the day that the Inside Out festival really gets under way.
Our pick for today is the absolutely bizarre The Beaver Trilogy. As the title suggests, the film is made up of three different segments: The Beaver Kid, The Beaver Kid 2, and The Orkly Kid. The first one is a short (apparently accidental) documentary from 1979 about “Groovin’ Gary,” a strange yet charismatic young man with He-Man hair from Beaver, Utah, whom the filmmaker happened upon one day in a television studio’s parking lot. Gary immediately launches into a series of mostly awful impersonations, shows off his weird (and also awesome) car featuring etchings of Farrah Fawcett and Olivia Newton-John on the windows, and eventually writes the filmmaker a letter inviting him to come to a Beaver talent show. The cameras follow Gary as he prepares for the show, where he will be performing as his drag alter-ego, Olivia Newton-Don. It’s both painful and hilarious to watch him get his makeup done at a funeral home by a mortician (for real!) and then burst onto the high school auditorium’s stage for the most awkward, yet lovable, drag performance the world has ever seen.
The Beaver Kid 2 is a 1981 low-budget, black and white re-enactment of the first film, with some new fictionalized elements. It also stars a very young Sean Penn as “Groovin’ Larry,” which adds to the curiosity of the project.
Finally, The Orkly Kid, made in 1985, is basically a remake of The Beaver Kid 2, this time starring Crispin Glover in the lead role. His performance, including his drag turn as “Olivia Neutron-Bomb,” is just as real and as heartbreaking as Penn’s, although this version of the story is significantly fictionalized. Watching the now-cult hit film is like watching a legend unfold over time, holding on to certain key elements, letting others fall by the wayside, and adding new touches at various intervals. Although, there is a slight chance you’ll never be able to listen to Olivia Newton-John’s “Please Don’t Keep Me Waiting” ever again.
The Beaver Trilogy screens at 10 p.m. at Cinecycle.