A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.
Steven, nearly 30 and living with his parents, sees an old Edgar Bergen movie on TV and decides to fulfill his longtime dream of becoming a ventriloquist. His beautiful unemployment counselor Lorena finds him work, but puts out a restraining order on him when he paints a thank-you note on her door. Later, this young mother agrees to date him anyway, but finds his bickering family, and his inexperience with women, daunting to a relationship. Steven's sister Heidi is a wedding planner with a drunken ex-fiancé who keeps showing up at the door. His friend Fangora is a pseudo-punk rocker whose sex does not prevent her from giving him terrible advice about women. The wedding of a Jewish girl, who wants Klezmer music and gets something unexpected, will become a turning point in everyone's lives. Written by
Adrien Brody is quietly wonderful as an unemployed nebbish in his late twenties who stills lives with his parents and has a fascination with ventriloquism; he finally buys a dummy of his own and practices the craft he's dreamed about, yet also realizes (via his new wooden companion) that it may be time to start growing up. Greg Pritikin wrote and directed this low-budget satire of suburban craziness, and seems to harbor an affection for bughouse characters all living on the edge. It isn't an original vision (Hal Hartley was mining this dryly eccentric territory 10 years ago), but it's still surprising how successfully Pritikin manages to pull this intentionally bumpy story together. Milla Jovovich is initially off-putting playing Brody's friend, a foul-mouthed garage rocker, but when she gets her band a job playing klesmer songs at a wedding--and immerses herself in the Jewish language--she reveals an appealing, sassy side that totally fits into Pritikin's offbeat universe. Illeana Douglas and Vera Farmiga are also very fine, and though the construction of the script is caricature-oriented, most of these actors overcome the slight material, revealing something unexpected in the process: a sunny story about weirdos that ultimately celebrates humanity. **1/2 from ****
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