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Those of you who have read my column with any sort of frequency at all know that I’m a sucker for a Lovable Loser. So I hit the jackpot when I saw writer/director Greg Pritikin’s Dummy—a film that’s jam-packed with ‘em.

Steven (Adrien Brody) is the movie’s lead lovable loser. He’s a quiet, skinny geek who wears glasses that are much too big for his head. He works a boring job in a non-descript electronics company, and he spends his free time hanging out at Target with his high school friend, Fangora (Milla Jovovich), a loud, brash, yet well-meaning loser who wants nothing more than to lead a successful rock band. Steven is almost thirty, but he still lives at home with his mom, who’s constantly trying to feed him, his dad, who ignores him, his grandma, and his lovable-loser sister, Heidi (Illeana Douglas), who’s decided to become a wedding planner—despite the fact that she just broke off her engagement with a “psycho” accountant (who’s stalking Steven in an attempt to win her back).

One day, Steven decides that it’s time to follow his dream of becoming a ventriloquist (that’s right—his dream of becoming a ventriloquist). So he buys himself a dummy and starts taking ventriloquist classes. He loses his job, but that only gives him more time to spend with his unnamed dummy. And it leads him to meet beautiful employment counselor Lorena (Vera Farmiga), who helps him find work as a ventriloquist. Steven finds that he’s falling in love with her—even though his well-meaning acts of love and gratitude cause her to get a restraining order.

As Steven continues to follow his dream—taking his dummy with him wherever he goes, no matter how much it creeps people out—he gains the confidence he needs to convince himself and those around him to “follow their bliss.”

Dummy is a simple, mostly straightforward movie with a simple message—and that’s what makes it so enjoyable to watch. You won’t find yourself getting tangled up in anything deep or confusing, trying to figure out what (if anything) the filmmakers are trying to tell you. It’s just an uncomplicated—yet unusual—story with a cast full of eccentric characters. Jovovich is appropriately over-the-top as the fun-loving, energetic, ever-devoted, and somewhat misguided (not to mention misguiding) Fangora. And Brody is absolutely adorable—in a Tobey-Maguire-as-Peter-Parker kind of way—as the mild-mannered underdog Steven. He slips into character flawlessly, proving that he won that best actor Oscar (for another 2002 release, The Pianist) for a reason.

Sometimes strange, sometimes hilarious, and sometimes boy-next-door sweet, Dummy is always a good choice. It turned me into an Adrien Brody fan—as well as a fan of writer/director Greg Pritikin—and I look forward to seeing more from both of them in the future.

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