What is your unique ability? For me growing up, I can tell you that I have the great ability to memorize random of facts of trivia. For the performers we follow in the fascinating documentary Dumbstruck, their unique talents shine through the art of ventriloquism. The very of idea of performing comedy and entertaining the audience through the use of a puppet never ceases the amaze me. Dumbstruck follows the lives of five ventriloquists who make their living by letting their wooden partner do the talking. Like everything else in life, what we do takes time, patience, and appreciation to love our craft. Knock on wood that Dumbstruck brings the audience good luck.
Director Mark Goffman takes us to the Annual Vent Haven Convention in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. We get to see that special group of ventriloquists from all walks of life gather to exchange stories and talents among their brethren. Among the attendees at the convention, we follow the lives of five up and coming ventriloquists. Each of them has a unique story to tell about how they caught the puppet bug and how they continue to pursue their dream of talking very little.
Kim Yeager is a former beauty pageant winner who travels around to schools and youth centers with her puppet. She hopes one day that she can escape her small town for the crowning achievement of ventriloquist, working on a cruise ship. Dan Horn has made a living honing his craft on cruise ships and numerous TV shows for years. However, he made the sacrifice of not being able to spend time with his family.
Wilma Swartz is very close-knit to the craft that her family disowns her and she is facing eviction from her home unless she earns $1,700 a month. 13-year-old Dylan Burdette has just started taking up the craft and is trying to ace an audition with a talent agency. Young Dylan must overcome the pressure from his father of him excelling in sports not his dreams. Finally, we have Terry Fator who became the 2007 winner of NBC’s America’s Got Talent. He has earned the biggest deal in Vegas history, 5-years – $100-million contract with the Mirage Resort and Casino. Fator is now a hot commodity on the Vegas strip and the pinnacle of success for ventriloquists everywhere.
Dumbstruck balances the good, the bad and the ugly of an art form that very few people excel in. While Terry is the ultimate success story of the film, the other four try to make ends meet as they slowly climb the ladder to his success. This documentary pulls at the heartstrings because it teaches us that this movie isn’t just about making it in ventriloquism – it’s about life and how we deal with the cards. While it reveals the harsh truth about vents – that they need an artificial friend to give the courage, it paints that unique picture in all of us. Don’t be a dummy, keep pursuing your dreams. One day, it will come true
FINAL GRADE: B+
TRR Movie Revue by Dean Rogers