Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Dummy (Movie Review)

I'm not entirely certain how I feel about this movie.

It's cute on one hand; quietly creepy on the other. The main character (Steven, well-played by Adrian Brody) and his love interest (Lorena, played by Vera Farmiga) are both compelling. But other main players — including the loud-mouthed wannabe rocker played by Milla Jovovich — are so irritating by definition, they couldn't be saved by decent acting.

Even Dummy's (2003) raison d'etre left me with mixed feelings. Essentially, it's a film about pursuing one's life ambitions — no matter how ridiculous they may seem. More immediately, it's about a man (Brody) who loses his low-level office job on the dawn of his 10-year high school reunion. On his way home from his last day at the office, he makes two stops: one at the unemployment office (where he meets the lovely Lorena), and another at the magic shop (where he picks up a ventriloquist dummy).

But Steven still lives at home (as does his older sister), where dysfunction is integral to every familial interaction. His parents and sister alike take regular verbal shots at one another, with Steven emerging as the lone spot of sensitivity in the home... despite the fact that he's a regular victim of their criticism.

Having myself once dreamed of a life as a biloquist (a shout-out to Charles Brockden Brown for teaching me the term!), I found it easy to empathize with Steven's quest. And while I understand why this softspoken high school "reject" increasingly needs the dummy to speak for him as he emerges from his own life-imposed shell, I also often had a tough time sitting in my seat as he takes the dummy shopping, out on dates, etc. In this regard Dummy was, at times, uncomfortable to watch.

But this, too, is integral to the story. And the fim is, in its own quirky way, a nod to anyone who wishes they'd chosen a different path in life.

[I suspect most of us fall into that category, or have at some point.]

Overall, Dummy is a film I hesitate to call "charming," even as I can find no other single word to describe it.



Agent Orange said...

I thought Milla was wild as the quirky tomboy.

Mollie said...

You know I have to respond when CBB is mentioned! Ah, the good old days of reading American Romantic/Gothic lit. Speaking of which, I teach Am. Lit to 11th grade (starting in 10 days--yikes!). We are starting with Romanticism, AND, the introduction to the genre in their textbook actually talks about Arthur Mervyn and his journey to Philadelphia! I was so excited! Whenever I see CBB, I feel validated! So, the question is do I read some of my thesis...maybe the abstract (expertly edited, of course) to my students?? I know they could care less, but it does still make me feel smart. I know stuff! And maybe I could influence 39 young impressionable minds to read Charles Brockden Brown: my life's mission fulfilled on the first day of student teaching!

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Agent Orange - Milla definitely did a good job... particularly when you consider how little she has in common with Fangora. But, man, if that wasn't one tough personality to deal with. I did find her more likeable as the film progressed, at least.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Mollie - I threw in that Brown reference just for you, actually. Though I was most exited when there was an actual instance of biloquism (as opposed to ventriloquism) in Dummy. You should show that film as a companion to your new class!

(Kidding. Only kidding.)

Still, sounds like you should have a lot of fun with that one. And, sure, read the abstract. It'll set a decent pace.

Also, you might want to consider assigning my thesis.

(OK. Kidding again. But about my thesis, not your abstract.)