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Puppet Love

We’ve seen our share of movies featuring fists in interesting places. But none can compare to Dumbstruck, a movie all about the wacky world of ventriloquists.

But first, a warning. This is a real documentary, even though the characters are so outlandish they could easily be part of a fictional tale. For all the “Vents” (the official nickname of people in the ventriloquist profession) attending an annual convention in Kentucky, the puppets on their hands could be the ticket to the big time – like cruise ships. Or elementary school auditoriums.

Of course, everyone is seeing dollar signs now that the extremely talented ventriloquist Terry Fator has received a five-year, $100 million contract to perform in Vegas after winning America’s Got Talent. The bar is now raised so high that even the least charismatic vents think they have a chance at the big time.

And some of them just might.

The film follows Fator, as well as a few others with far less fame and fortune. There’s Wilma Swartz, an eccentric six-foot-five woman who takes her puppets to Wal-Mart to buy clothes. Dylan Burdette is a shy 13-year-old who’s chosen ventriloquism much to the dismay of his motorcross/sports-loving father. And then there’s former beauty queen, Kim Yeager, whose mom really can’t accept her choice of puppet children over the real thing and a husband to go with them.

Ultimately, the movie is about a group of outcasts, a theme most of us can easily relate to. Dumbstruck is funny, heartwarming and fascinating on so many levels. Sure, there’s the expected creep factor of viewing a room full of wide-eyed dummies sitting in chairs.

The joy of Dumbstruck is that it’s just the kind of off-beat movie that’s ideal before a summer of blockbusters about robots, pirates and hunks with hammers. Just be grateful it’s not in 3D.

Expanding to major cities throughout May and June