Don't write off Dumbstruck
as a movie about a bunch of dummies or sideshow freaks. You will be
amazed at the heart and soul on display, and get hooked by the
exhilarating and devastating stories.
In this documentary, director Mark Goffman brings us to the Vent Haven
Convention - the world's largest meet up of ventriloquists. Yes, it's
an eclectic group of people, but Goffman focuses in on 5 of the most
interesting and allows us to follow their lives from the dream come
true story of Terry Fator, who won America's
Got Talent and secured a $100
million contract to perform in Vegas, to the struggles of Wilma, who
soldiers on with her show even though she's on the brink of losing
everything and doesn't seem to be heading towards anything.
Goffman elicits a great emotional investment from the audience in four
people as we learn about the five people he is following. These five
performers are a group of outsiders who can easily be mocked, but you
cannot avoid becoming wrapped up in their pursuit of happiness and
success, especially when it seems out of reach.
We might be familiar with Fator's massive success after America's
Got Talent, but his journey and
years of forging forward in the face of extreme challenge and the
general niceness and likability of the guy wins you over. He has a
genuine expression of shock and satisfaction at what is happening to
his career. Next time I am in Vegas, I want to see the show because of
On the flip side, poor poor Wilma will have you crying as we see the
painful life she has lead and continues to lead. Every story about her
family will make you want to call your Mom and Dad and thank them for
being so much better than hers. Yet, in the face of it all, the one
thing that keeps her going is her love of ventriloquism, which Goffman
captures even though it seems so unlikely given her performance venues
The only part of Dumbstruck that doesn't connect is Goffman's
of the kid, Dylan, although you will love watching his mother walk
around with a look on her face that screams, "Oh my God! I will never
have grandchildren!" He's a teen Fator-wannabe, but doesn't have the
same presence and intrigue about him the others do. Yet, some will find
a kinship with him as he struggles to have a relationship with a father
who doesn't get the ventriloquist thing and keeps wishing he had a
manlier teen boy.
Goffman relies on traditional, compelling storytelling to help us
relate to a group of people who are about as far from traditional as
you can imagine, but they are compelling, which is why you want to
check out Dumbstruck.
is Dumbstruck is rated PG for brief suggestive humor.