The film centers around Steven (Brody), a lovable loser who learns how to express himself and come out of his shell through ventriloquism. After being fired from his unfulfilling office job, Steven finds himself at the desk of unemployment counselor Lorena (Farmiga). Choosing to pursue his dream of being a professional ventriloquist, Steven hones his skills and tries to work up the nerve to ask out Lorena with the help of his best friend and fellow misfit, Fangora (Jovovich).
Dummy provides examples of:
- Brick Joke: Steven puts on a CD of John Philip Sousa ("the guy that does all the marches") when alone at home with Lorena. After dropping her off and being told by Lorena that she's not ready for a relationship, he comes home with the CD still playing.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Steven's a nice guy but after disarming Michael, he flat-out sucker-punches him in the face.
- Can't Spit It Out: Steven.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: With the exception of his sister Heidi, Steven's entire family. Fannie can be like this sometimes, too.
- Demonic Dummy: Averted. The dummy, though a bit creepy at times, never acts of its own accord or shows any hostility (that Steven doesn't project onto it). Played with in one shot near the end, but the dummy was simply being operated by an off-screen character.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: In the end, every character has to put up their own fight for things to work out for them. Steven and Lorena end up together after he saves her and his sister from a prop gun-toting Michael, Fangora and her band finally get a gig and it's implied that she and Michael may even get together. Oh, and the Dummy talks...or not.
- Gun Struggle: Variation. The gun goes off, but it turns out to be a prop.
- Hollywood Restraining Order
- Jewish Mother: Fern. She overlooks the fact that Michael's so bad Heidi had to get a restraining order against him because he's "a very successful accountant."
- Mistaken for Gay: Lorena, by Fangora.
- Nice Guy: Steven, though it works against him at first. Steven is so shy and willing to help others (such as Fangora) at his own expense that he can't find it in him to fight hard enough for Lorena after she leaves or ventriloquism, which is the reason he didn't pursue it at first. It isn't until Michael confronts him, Lorena and his sister at the wedding that he finally musters the courage to fight for all of them and punches Michael.
- Oh, Crap!: One of Heidi's clients wants klezmer music played at her wedding. Fangora is so desperate for a gig that she says her band can totally play that. When Heidi says, "Wow, I didn't even know you were Jewish," Fangora gets a look on her face that clearly says she has no idea what klezmer is or what being Jewish would have to do with it.
- Second Love: Steven is this for Lorena. (Her fiancé died getting hit by a car the night they were to wed.)
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Fangora.
- Stalking is Love: Believed by Michael, Heidi's ex-fiancé, who attempts to propose to Heidi by holding her at gunpoint. Heidi and Lorena disagree.
- Widowed at the Wedding: Lenora and her late fiancé. Also Someone to Remember Him By.