The Pianist turns into a likeable loser in Dummy, the follow-up production for Adrien Brody after his Oscar-winning emergence into the spotlight as Wladyslaw Szpilman. For those of you that have not heard of Dummy - that is, 99.5% of you - here's your chance to find out about a fun and entertaining little trip about a quirky family and a dummy.
Brody stars as Steven, a scrawny, nerdy 30-year old that still lives with his parents. After being fired from his job for destroying the fax machine, he buys a ventriloquist dummy and goes to an unemployment agency to find a gig. There, he meets a beautiful young woman named Lorena, who turns out to be a single mother, and also his inner voice - through his dummy he is able to say things that he thinks but dares not blurt out. Soon, he is beginning to take risks he never thought were possible (like asking Lorena out on a date). All in all, Dummy is about the misadventures of a loser who is trying to make something for himself.
Basically, Dummy is a very simple, quirky film that works on many levels. It is a bit offbeat but not so much so that Artisan Entertainment shouldn't have attempted to market this film more; after all, it has a good cast (including last year's Oscar winner) and a funny script. Whereas Brody transformed himself into a Polish Jew attempting to survive in The Pianist, he completely goes the other direction here with a strange, nervous voice and shy expressions, something that can draw laughs even when he isn't speaking. Surrounded by plenty of interesting and equally odd characters, there isn't a single scene that is lacking.
It is also neat to note that Brody actually did all of his own ventroliquism; director Greg Pritikin didn't throw in the dummy's voice during editing.
In terms of plot, the romantic element is actually quite interesting, as it is easy to become drawn into Steven's battle to keep the woman he likes entertained. He does plenty of stupid stuff to drive her away, but Brody makes it very easy for us to forgive his character. It would have been nice to have explored a little more into Lorena; there are a couple scenes that suggest the director wanted to go more in depth but felt as though he would bore people. Instead, what results is a pretty and nice story with not much of a background.
Dummy is a hard movie to explain, as it pleases just by being itself. It is a nice change of pace from ordinary romantic comedies and has plenty of laughs for both sexes to enjoy.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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