If you’ve ever been a cruise ship chances are you’re going to see a couple of different things. You’ll definitely see water. You’ll definitely see an abundance of food that will add pounds quickly to you. You’ll definitely see alcoholic beverages that if drank in large enough quantities will make you forget you’re even on a cruise. And lastly you’ll definitely see a ventriloquist as one of your entertainment performers.
It’s a tough job. You have to not only perfect the act of ventriloquism, but you also have to perfect the art of comedy and knowing your audience. Bare in mind all this is while maneuvering the mouth with your hands. Most people don’t give them enough credit. Personally I think it is more of an art form than a craft.
The film Dumbstruck is directed by Mark Goffman and follows various up and coming ventriloquists around as they try to perfect their act and make it in this tough and competitive world. It’s a really tough business. To get to perform in front of people is an honor and it means you’ve really done something right. Most ventriloquists think of a touring cruise ship ventriloquist as close to the top of the food chain.
I’ve been on seven cruises in my life and I can say that on all of them but one, there was a ventriloquist act onboard the ship. Most of them were pretty funny.
This film takes us to the annual Vent Haven Convention in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky to show us various ventriloquists that were picked right out of a Christopher Guest mockumentary.
There’s an awful lot of compassion and emotion that goes on behind these characters. I guess each character really is a piece of the emotional fabric that is behind the ventriloquist.
The movie’s five featured ventriloquists are Terry Fator, Dan Horn, Kim Yeager, Wilma Swartz, and Dylan Burdette. Horn is by far the most experienced out of the five. He’s a popular cruise ship performer and has appeared on numerous television shows, including the Late Show with David Letterman.
Yeager is a former beauty queen and she typically performs in school assemblies and wants to make ventriloquism her career. Dylan is a young man at only 13 years old. He has high hopes of becoming a famous act but struggles with his father because his father would prefer him to be a sports player than a ventriloquist. Wilma is a tall woman who’s facing eviction and really is attached to her ventriloquist puppets.
Lastly we have Terry Fator, who won America’s Got Talent and went on to sign the biggest deal in Las Vegas History.
Really the heart of this film is the people themselves. Each of them has some kind of personal struggle and whether or not they overcome it or not is what makes us really care and relate to them. It’s about doing something you love and trying to make a living out of it. We all can relate to something like that.
FINAL GRADE: B â€“
Reel Film News Movie Review by Bill Ayres