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Movie Review: Dumbstruck (PG)

dumbstruck-2011-documentary-filmVentriloquists Aren’t Just for Dummies

 By Sarah McCarthy
DUMBSTRUCK is not your average documentary. While Spurlock and Moore are documenting revolutionary societal flaws, Lindsay and Mark Goffman simply follow the modest lives of ventriloquists (or ‘vents’), beginning at the Vent Haven convention in Kentucky.
Each performer is at a different level of success, including America’s Got Talent winner Terry Fator and a 13-year-old boy with a dream of being a professional entertainer. Each of their stories are recorded on and off-stage, and include poignant struggles regarding their lives and careers.
You may recognize director Mark Goffman from the credits of the TV series “White Collar”, which he produces. Though he has been involved in numerous other TV shows, and has even written songs for guitar commercials; DUMBSTRUCK is the first film that he has directed. Goffman’s wife Lindsay produced the film; she’s also been involved in network shows, such as American Idol

The performers have relationships with each other through the Vent Haven convention, and keep in contact throughout the year. The more successful people mentor the lesser, and their bond is especially shown when Wilma (one of the ventriloquists) is on the verge of losing her home, and her “vent family” supports her until she is able to sustain it.
Each story epitomizes the American Dream in an abstract twist on a Great Gatsby-esque plotline. One woman considers her puppets to be her “children”, and spends the movie hopelessly striving to perform on a cruise ship, though another performer records his divorce (done through e-mail), which he was forced to agree to due to his time spent performing. Each ventriloquist’s story compliments the other, with contrasts in fate, success, and personality.
>DUMBSTRUCK is surprisingly moving, and well-done (especially for a directorial debut). Rated PG for ‘brief offensive humor,’ it has mild language, and is appropriate for children over 12.

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