By Logan Holloway
Laughter truly is the best medicine. Need a wake up jolt in the morning? Why not try taking a break from your sixth cup of Folgers breakfast brew and give our friends Calvin and Hobbes sort out life's problems, or at least pee on them.
Trouble falling asleep? In the streaming age of TV, countless libraries of mirth are there to help. So if watching Chandler and Joey attempt to raise various forms of fowl in a NYC apartment isn't doing it for you, then maybe the merry adventures of four young boys in South Park, Colo., is more up your alley for inducing those inspiring belly laughs. Either way, my point is, there is a lot of funny stuff out there, and laughing is a great tool to use when wading through simple unpleasantness like sleeping disorders, as well as some of the nastier topics we bump into everyday.
Voices Thrown Silent is a movie, written and directed by Paul Armstrong, that effectively evokes what we're talking about here. Yes, it's a comedy. But more than that, it's a movie with a message, a message that frankly no one wants to talk about. And so it uses humorous dialogue and inspired acting to serve up its message in a more appetizing way.
The film is a mockumentary about two struggling comedians, both of whom have chosen the dying art of ventriloquism as the means from which to let their voices be heard. One is the estranged son of a legend in the ventriloquy circles, and is pursuing this career as a means of connecting with with father. The other is just a lowly artist, on the outsets of what is considered normal, point and case being the lifelong passion of ventriloquy. We follow these two misfits as they try to reach some standard of success in their field, but the problem is that they both have one major fly in their proverbial ointment: they are each using a different race of puppet for their act. The son, a young black man, has adopted a white, Jewish doctor into his routine, which proves to be a little less than inviting to the rest of his community. The other, a young, white and would-be outspoken woman, is half of a duo to an embodiment of stereotypes of a black puppet, who is said to be owned by her and have less than poetic remarks for some of the women they meet on their "tour." If that doesn't make one a sellout show then what will? Apparently, the answer is anything else, as the low part of her career has her learning the ways of the street whilst her "black friend" pimps her out to. somewhat willing customers.
It's a solid premise, and if the comedy doesn't always hit its mark, the film is nevertheless an enjoyable affair thanks to its two leads, Lynn Andrews III and Lauren Davis. It does an effective job of taking a usually divisive subject and infusing it with humor and lightheartedness, because in the end what could be creepy about an interracial relationship when one has to worry about negotiating prostitution terms with a puppet?