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|Index||68 reviews in total|
This movie is terrific. It's very funny and very powerful. Everything that happens is a necessary plot point to tell the story. Nothing is extraneous. Each character is uniquely entertaining and real, they each remind us of someone we know. We root for Stephen, we dislike Heidi, and we can't help but love Fanny. The characters are developed wonderfully. The performances are all terrific. I've never seen any of Adrien Brody's work before, but if it's all as great as this then he's destined for super stardom. Illeana Douglas is hilarious and perfect as usual. I was most blown away by Milla Jovovich. She's amazingly fun to watch on screen and her New Jersey accent is dead-on. Great dialog and flawless directing. Simply put it's a wonderful film with a unique theme, which is unique in itself.
I really loved this film. I kept walking past it at the video store and
finally decided we HAD to watch a movie about pursuing a dream of being
That being said, it is definitely one of my favorites of the past few years, and definitely my favorite comedy. If you're considering renting it, and you like Wes Anderson, I think this is a film you would enjoy.
The cast is spot-on and Adrien Brody as Steven is fall out of your seat AMAZING. (It doesn't hurt that he's got excellent material to work with.) His tone is so understated, so perfectly introverted as Steven, and so wry and cutting as the dummy...you truly feel that you are watching two actors playing two characters. It makes the moments the dummy is unanimated quite wild and almost eerie.
To boot, this movie is actually quite a good romantic comedy, which in my humble opinion is usually an oxymoron. Steven's pathological shyness and abuse at the hands of his own dummy really made my heart ache, even as my sides were splitting from laughter.
Its hard to believe its the director's first film. Again, all the actors (particularly Brody and Douglas, and Jovovich certainly holds her own as well) go a long way in making it work. It is disappointing to see the lack of attention this movie has gotten. I hope it becomes a video sleeper. It is definitely worth renting...more than once!
Let's face it: even Woody Allen has gotten stale setting up laughs using
stereotypical Jewish dysfunctional family (is there an oxymoron in that
description?). It's been done so many times. The welcome surprise is
director and writer Greg Pritikin takes this old kreplach (in place of
chestnut) and makes it work with a novel theme brought to life by a
Adrien Brody made this movie before his Oscar-winning portrayal of a gifted Jewish musician in "The Pianist." Here he is a young man, Steve, whose lifelong ambition (he's bordering on thirty) is to become a ventriloquist. He buys a dummy and takes lessons (Brody, who passed fairly well as a concert pianist in his better known film, actually did all the dummy tricks and ventriloquism here).
Steve lives at home with his mom (Jessica Walter) who is forever shoving food at everyone. His dad (Ron Leibman) is retired and he pursues a common hobby of men no longer gainfully employed: making scale model warships while watching hard core porn. Sister Heidi (Ileana Douglas) dreamed of becoming a singer. Her ambition crushed, largely by her scatterbrain mother, she is now a wedding planner, her first big job creating agita in the first degree. She's pursued by a clearly insane former fiance to her distress.
Steve's closest friend from high school days is rock singer Fangera (Milla Jovovich) who has a cum laude Master's in Public Crudity. Their relationship is platonic and Fangera is very albeit crazily devoted to her longtime buddy. Desperate for work for herself and her band, she passes herself off to Heidi as a klezmer specialist, exactly what the despairing wedding planner needs for her first big event. Of course she knows nothing about klezmer music and her immersion in studying that genre is a riot by itself. So is the payoff at the wedding.
Steve, fired from his job, meets employment counselor Lorena (Vera Farmiga) and sparks of all kind begin to fly. Lorena is a single mother with an adorable little girl and she's both attracted to Steve and shy about a commitment. Their relationship, which begins with a weird approach concocted by the barely sane Fangera, rolls back and forth and is kind of touching.
No need to say more about the plot. This fast-paced romantic comedy works with all the principal cast members playing off each other in an often funny and occasionally serious and meaningful way. Surprises are few but when has a ventriloquist's dummy been central to story development in any recent film?
The special features on the DVD are fun. Included is an interactive test in which the viewer answers a series of questions and then finds out what kind of dummy he or she is. I was ranked a ...hey, that's my personal business.
There's also a storyboard history of ventriloquism which points out that this entertainment form allowed, decades ago, a performer to "say" things through his dummy that would have been unacceptable directly from his mouth (including negative comments about politicians).
As usual, reading the credits closely paid off. The technical adviser was Paul Winchell and the assistant technical adviser...Jerry Mahoney. I think you have to be from my generation to appreciate that.
Adrien Brody , Milla Jovovich, and Illeana Douglas are all hilarious in this great little comedy... Beautiful Milla shows her unique talent for being simultaneously really sexy and really funny, as she did 5 yrs earlier, in "The Fifth Element"... What I like most is that the humour is mainly subtle. The funniest bits are more understated than they are in the bigger-budget comedies with the in-your-face appeal to the broadest possible audience stuff... "Dummy" is a fine example of not compromising, in order to harvest the biggest-possible box-office receipts. I give this side-splitting indie 8 big-ones and whole-heartedly recommend it.
DUMMY, one of Adrien Brody's two shelved indies that finally made it to theaters after he won his PIANIST Oscar, is much more likable and watchable than the other one, LOVE THE HARD WAY (about which I groused at length elsewhere in the IMDb). TV Guide Online critic Maitland McDonagh described this quirky young-adults-coming-of-age comedy as "repetitive and obvious but somehow endearing, like a truly ugly dog with sweet eyes," and I pretty much agree with her assessment. This Long Island-based story of a pair of twentysomething siblings still living at home with their annoying, critical parents (Jessica Walter and Ron Leibman are so convincing as Mom and Dad, it's scary!) while trying to find their respective paths to independence could have been shrill and tiresome, and at times it teeters dangerously close to being so. Luckily, the superb leads bring a gentle, non-cloying sweetness and poignancy to their performances that makes you keep watching and rooting for them. That's saying quite a bit when you consider that the road to full-tilt adulthood for brother Steven (Brody) involves honing his ventriloquism skills (Brody learned ventriloquism for his role, and he does a good job! I wonder if Brody drops such acquired-for-a-role skills once the movie wraps, or if he keeps them honed just for fun?) with a rather unnerving, unnamed dummy (not to keep digressing, but with such rare exceptions as Charlie McCarthy, aren't most ventriloquist's dummies rather unnerving? :-) as he woos Lorena, his employment counselor (enchantingly played by Vera Farmiga), who's got issues of her own. High-strung sister Heidi (Illeana Douglas) is trying to forge a career as a wedding planner, but she's got her work cut out for her, what with an inept stalker ex-fiance (Jared Harris) dogging her every move, her first major professional assignment turning out to be a Jewish wedding where the bride insists on klezmer music, and not owning her own car; the scenes where Heidi has to beg their mom for the car are both funny and painful. Adding to all this anxiety-laced wackiness is Steven's high school pal Fangora, née Fanny (Milla Jovovich), an aspiring punk rocker and all-around nutty chick who claims she can play klezmer music so she'll get the wedding gig, as well as giving Steven well-meant but questionable advice on how to win Lorena's heart, such as spray-painting a message on Lorena's front door. Fortunately, in writer/director Greg Pritikin's world, even restraining orders and omnipresent ventriloquist's dummies can't block the path to love and happiness for long, and everyone gets what they deserve. Brody and Douglas are particularly well-cast; with their attractively angular faces, almond-shaped green eyes, and overall air of angst, they make very convincing siblings. Jovovich is hilarious, especially in the running gag where she and her punk band practice their klezmer numbers. Between DUMMY and ZOOLANDER, it's clear that Jovovich has a flair for comedy. I hope she gets more chances to keep her funny side up!
I had a premonition I was about to see a comedy with a lot of heart even before the main titles played out at a screening of "Dummy" at the American Film Market 2000 recently.
In the opening scene, Steven, who lives with his eccentric parents and sister, sits enthralled watching the flickering tv image of ventriloquist Edgar Bergan and his dummy, Charlie McCarthy. As the camera moves in on the young man, we see in his eyes the depth of his dreams and aspirations to at last make something of his humdrum life. The next day, he gives up his 9-to-5 job and announces to his dysfunctional family that he wants to be a ventriloquist. His ever-busy mother(Jessica Walter), making yet another tuna sandwich, remarks that his career choice is" nice but not very realistic" while his sister observes that with the dummy on his lap, Steven looks like a child molester.
Casting is right on the mark. Adrien Brody brings a sympathetic and likable quality to the role of Steven as he manipulates his dummy to express his own private fears and feelings to the people around him. Vera Farmiga, the love interest, is extremely engaging as his employment counselor and Illeana Douglas, the very unmarried sister, is constantly funny. Outstanding too is Milla Javovich as Steven's best friend, a punk rocker with layers of attitude. Writer and director Greg Pritikin skillfully holds down the pathos and gives his film just the right touch of humor. An entertaining movie that is worth a look.
Steven (Adrien Brody), 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 (Vera Farmiga) 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 (Illeana Douglas) is a wedding planner with a drunken
ex-fiancé who keeps showing up at the door. His friend Fangora (Milla
Jovavich) 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.
Whoa, this is bad. Greg Pritikin directs his own script, about a tenth of which is funny. The rest strains hard to give us quirky characters, wacky situations and unexpected plot twists; but we can't buy any of it. The movie becomes unrecoverable when Lorena changes her mind about the restraining order and agrees to date Stevenafter he mails her a videotaped apology featuring himself and his dummy. The message on her door disturbed her, but the tape charmed her? I could almost hear Vera Farmiga's brain going "ZZZZZT!" as she tried to play this character. Their relationship grows into the least believable nerd-with-beautiful-girl scenario I've ever seen.
The performances are varied. Adrien Brody recovers fairly well from playing such a pointless character. Farmiga is charming, especially considering the impossibility of her job. Jovavich, with her affected Jersey accent, never quite seems to inhabit her character. Illeana Douglas, a good actress, does a lousy job here. She doesn't seem to get what she's doing, and we can hardly blame her.
This is part of a sub-genre in comedy that I dislike: one that blurs the distinction between celebrating and belittling the losers it depicts. "Napoleon Dynamite," "Waiting for Guffman" and documentaries like "American Movie" and "Gates of Heaven" all belong in this dubious category. But "Dummy" is much worse. It's as phony as it is condescending.
Adrien Brody's next movie,after his Oscar-winning turn in "The Pianist"
is this film which is beautifully odd and full of quirk and sweetness.
Brody is Steven, a lonely,shy working mensch who lives at home and
senses his life slipping away from him. One night,he discovers the art
of ventriloquy is the venting of his trapped spirit. Spurred along by
his friend,a Gothic,wild-child girl rocker named Fanny(Milla
Jovovich,kinetic here),Steven pursues his dream,much to the utter
amazement of his painfully neurotic family(Jessica Walter,Ron Leibmann
and Ileana Douglas). Meanwhile,he harbors a crush on an employment
counselor(Vera Farmigia),a sweet woman with a difficult past.
Meanwhile,the dummy Steven has worked with has nearly developed a personality of its own,goading Steven to become bolder and braver mensch.
Brody's acuity at ventriloquy further enhances this film,which has nothing particularly fancy or breathtaking to it. The love story at play here is...well,it's different. It's neither sentimental nor cynical,sweet but not syrupy. Kind of rare in the world of light romantic comedy.
The show is spare but that,I feel,enhances this pic. To me,this is one of the more unique films I've sen in quite a while. Kudos to director/writer Greg Pritkin for his deft touch. The cast is well placed and make this film both awkward and warm. I recommend this film for anyone who likes either/or both their comedies or romances odd and true.
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 ****
I really liked the quirky humour and though Adrien Brody's acting was
astonishing, the ensemble playing and the interplay of dummy and people
was what made the film work for me. I am an ignorant English Quaker and
I had a simple question for the director or Adrien or any other
American viewers. Is Adrien's character meant to represent a
specifically Jewish character, or is the film, as I suspect, more
universal in its design?
I teach 11-16 year olds and have written books on mainstreaming children with special needs. I may have read the movie all wrong, but to me the humour brought alive all the hassle that children with Asperger's Syndrome have, trying to communicate their ideas and feelings to an uncomprehending world. My old school has one of the best records in UK for bringing children on the autistic spectrum out of special schools into ordinary classrooms and get great results for them. It takes real love for the staff to help the other children treat them with the kind of respect they need to show their proper talents. The anguish in Adrien's eyes was met with perfect friendship and love in his sister and girl friends and I thought that it was this that helped him reveal his true talents.
I have never filled in a comments box like this before and I only do so because Dummy is one of my all time favourite movies
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