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DUMMY review

Hey folks, Harry here. Right after the amazing documentary, THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED, I sat there in my seat just stunned. Wondering how any film could possibly follow it up.

I took a look at the schedule and the next film was DUMMY, a movie having to do with ventriloquism… described as being a comedy. I definitely was up for some humor, that last film was deadly deadly serious.

2:15 p.m. - DUMMY

Narrative Feature – Regional Premiere

Director – Greg Pritikin

Cast – Adrien Brody, Milla Jovovich, Illeana Douglas, Vera Farmiga, Jessica Walter, Ron Leibman, Jared Harris.

I’d never heard of the writer/director Greg Pritikin before, but finding his email just a while ago, I discovered he’s an Eddie Cantor fan. Cool nick Greg! Anyway, Greg’s film in the festival guide caught my attention because it told me that Adrien Brody played a character that could only express himself through his Ventriloquist Dummy. SOLD. I’m There!

That was really all I needed to know. I love movies with ventriloquist acts in them. They’re akin to magic, and having worked for a magician for years, I love the art of misdirection and a ventriloquist and magician are two very related positions. Adrien plays a man who has just hit 30, he’s been unhappy with his lot in life, still living at home with a family that the term neurotic just doesn’t quite cover. His mother is played by that psycho woman from PLAY MISTY FOR ME, so for most of the movie I was expecting her to just go completely nut job and start hacking the family up. But this isn’t BUTCHER BAKER NIGHTMARE MAKER. The father is this seemingly impotent loser that just builds battleship and naval models while watching porn. And his older sister… Illeana Douglas.

It should be a rule that in every film that Adrien Brody needs an older sister, they should cast Illeana Douglas. If they didn’t come out of the Petri dish, then my name ain’t Otis B Driftwood. She’s a woman that’s given up on her marriage plans, her dreams and now is a wedding planner. She’s deeply cynical of everybody else. There’s sadness in her dismissive attitude towards everyone. The way she’s denigrated by the rest of her family, so that her only defense is to pick back or ignore and sublimate herself before them all. A really wonderful part for her, perhaps my favorite role of hers since TO DIE FOR… which btw, I really think they ought to reissue that movie into theaters. Nicole Kidman is currently as big a star as you could ever want. Joaquin Phoenix has a following now. I’d just love for more people to discover or rediscover that film.

Anyway, the two stars of this film are Adrien Brody and Milla Jovovich.

Adrien plays his character as if he learned how to express himself via Charlie McCarthy. It is odd, there’s a childlike innocence there, but at the same time that eerie creepy puppet movement to his face. I kept trying to see the operator with the hand in his back. If Adrien doesn’t warm you with his character, then you’re as alive his dummy. There’s a tenderness here, like a fawn… like, BAMBI when Bambi was little. That’s Adrien Brody here.

But the scene stealer, the performer that just steals the show is Milla Jovovich. She is absolutely fantastic here. Unlike most of the Milla-haters out there, I love an awful lot of her work, and really do feel she was unfairly brutalized in her JOAN OF ARC. Here, she’s playing a 30 year old rebel, that’s rebelling against everything, trying desperately to get her band a gig. Lifting stuff from Borders constantly. Always trying to help others, but being pathetically inept at it. She’s a crazed foul mouthed Harpo in this movie, but like Harpo… she has a great soul. A pure one. Watching her transform from singing screaming metal shit to Klemzer music for a wedding… MY GOD! You must see it. Hear it. Truly wonderful.

This is playing again this Saturday here at SXSW at the Westgate. Definitely give it a shot. I know several people that feel this was their favorite movie of the festival. For me, that honor goes to THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED.

This is a really damn fine film and shows that Greg Pritikin has potential for vast future success. Personally, this is the guy I’d call up to talk about that Marx Brothers movie with. And while I know he probably won’t be given a shot on that, I can’t wait to see what comes next from him.

Readers Talkback
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  • March 14, 2003, 1:52 a.m. CST

    Milla was great in JOAN OF ARC. It was the MOVIE that sucked.

    by Cash Bailey

    That movie lost me with the 'Benny Hill rape scene' at the beginning.

  • March 14, 2003, 2:24 a.m. CST

    Re: Jovovich.....

    by Jimmy Jazz

    Although she has been in some fairly crappy movies and is a bit too skinny and adrogynous looking for my taste, she can be a hell of a scene stealer is given the right role. Check out a movie called "The Claim". She played a Portuguese madam of a whorehouse in a 1870's mining town. She's nearly unrecognizable in dark contacts and gold teeth, but she's a revelation. She more than holds her own opposite the likes of Peter Mulan and Sara Polley. Good Stuff! That CD she put out years back wasn't so shabby either. This is diefinitely no dime a dozen Model-slash-whatever bimbo. Now if she would just gain ten to fifteen pounds and actually grow breasts, she'd be perfect.

  • March 14, 2003, 2:27 a.m. CST

    Milla Jovovich

    by Darlef

    mmmm...Milla...talent and looks. She is a good actress, and a very, very, very, very beautiful woman...Milla, will you marry me? I may just be a broke guy trying to write a novel and a play, but hey...I got love for you woman, and lots of it.

  • March 14, 2003, 4:06 a.m. CST

    I thought for a second...

    by earthworm

    ...that this would be a film about Adrien Brody sticking his hand up Milla Jovovichs ass. Ah well, back to fantasy...

  • March 14, 2003, 4:13 a.m. CST

    Milla is the Fifth Element, the Supreme being

    by Heleno

    She'll protect you, never fear.

  • March 14, 2003, 5:40 a.m. CST

    Milla raises the bar for ethereal, adrogenous, nutjob pieces of

    by earthworm


  • March 15, 2003, 10:51 a.m. CST

    Brodie's character in "the Pianist" should have been played by C

    by Mr_Zzsazzz

    Only a racist redneck would refuse to see that a WWII era Jew could be played by an African American. And with Sammy Davis, Jr., dead, Cedric stands in his place as the triple threat who could do the job.

  • March 19, 2003, 6:01 p.m. CST


    by littlepotatochip

    "Dummy" is one of the gems from SXSW 2003 and deserves immediate national distribution. In my opinion, it is "My Big Fat Jewish Dummy!" It is escapist, funny, disfunctional, and soon to be a classic. Congratulations one and all!

  • March 26, 2003, 6:04 a.m. CST

    I am curious if Adrien Brody...

    by Dolemite_fan

    can match Anthony Hopkins' performance in MAGIC, which if none of you have seen, it's a damn fine character study directed by Richard Attenborough. This one sounds good, I hope to see it in a theatre, and not straight-to-video in six months.

  • Aug. 15, 2003, 2:59 p.m. CST

    Let Milla sing

    by Caractacus Potts

    I saw her concert in '94. Been waiting on that second album forever.