A musical revue from one of the best ventriloquists ever
Armed with a cast of puppet characters, Fator goes beyond the norm when it comes to the art of ventriloquism. While it's a skill to be able to perform multiple voices clearly without moving your mouth, Fator is capable of singing very well, but also in a variety of voices, all without moving his mouth. It's an amazing ability, and it makes up the core of his hit Las Vegas show, Terry Fator: All Hits, No Lips, which is captured on this DVD. Moving through a series of characters, musical impersonations, songs and amusing interactions with his puppets, he breezes through a 90-minute show. He knows his audience (read: middle America) and plays to them, with a show that's alternatingly cute, emotional, slightly risque and occasionally topical.
Among his puppets, which include some creepy-looking characters that would have been at home in Genesis' Spitting Image video for "Land of Confusion," he has a impersonating turtle named Winston (who serves as something of a mascot for this show); a country singer/politician named Walter; Duggie the stoner, and Emma, the little white girl with the big black voice, along with Berry Fabulous, the seemingly Hispanic, most likely homosexual puppet that lets Fator unleash his showtunes side. With brief musical interludes covering everything from Justin Bieber to the Jersey Boys, Garth Brooks to Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Etta Jame to Cher, this is honestly a show with something for everyone, and Fator's chameleon-like ability to mimic singers is fantastic, even if the interaction with the puppets, especially the way he laughs at their jokes, can be a bit over the top.
Though the snippets of songs he performs in character are great, he also performs a few songs as himself, including Michael Buble's "Feeling Good" and two of his own original numbers. This is where the show goes a touch off the rails. Fator, a native Texan, is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, and as such, he falls prey to the need to touch on God and country, which he does through his songs "Horses in Heaven" and "Heroes," (both of which he reminds the audience are available online, with proceeds going to charity; certainly a noble endeavor.) The thing is, when you put these elements into the flow of a very silly, very fun show, so one minute you're joking about a sexy nurse (portrayed by Fator's wife Taylor), then talking about a child dying of cancer, and then playing around with a stuttering Elvis imitator who sings Aaron Neville songs, it gets a bit awkward and the good vibes are hard to maintain. That there's two such speed bumps not too far apart is probably the show's biggest problem, even if the intentions were wholly good.
Where the show hits its high point, following the more sincere segments, is when Fator invites an audience member on-stage to be transformed into a human puppet. To say much about it is to ruin it, but the effect is rather stunning. However, it's also another example of what is my main issue with this entire show. Fator's skill and talent is beyond question. No one does what he does and even if they come close, no one can match his quality. But, at least for me, it's not all that entertaining. I never found myself laughing or very into the music, even if I was constantly marveling at his skill. It's probably the curse of the cover artist/impersonator, whose main goal is to replicate the enjoyment you had when enjoying another performer. To do something more with that replica is what makes one truly entertaining.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is straightforward, putting Fator, the music and his puppets up-front and center (with the front surrounds used to present "off-stage" voices), while the audience fills out the surrounds to put you in the middle of the crowd. It's a solid presentation that helps build out the soundfield of a live event. Everything is crisp and clear, though the off-stage voices could have been louder, letting the positioning handle the gag.
A quartet of pre-show announcements (running a total of 4:44) are next, featuring Vikki (a "cougar" character who doesn't appear in this show), soul singer Julius, Berry Fabulous and Winston. These apparently are shown in the theater before the show and focus on pushing Fator's social media presence and warning the audience about recording the show. There's an attempt at humor, but it's limited.
Two sets of presidential campaign endorsements (3 minutes in total) follow, featuring several of the puppets and some of the humans in the show. One assumes these are also shown in the theater, perhaps as interstitials. They play on the Walter character's political ambitions, and are of surprisingly low quality.
"Leroy & Me" (2:56) is another original song from Fator that was apparently cut from the show, for good reason. A song about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, it's as sincere as the other two, but without the charitable payoff. It seems like something Fator may be really into, and his singing is fine, but it's just not that interesting.
The extras wrap with Fator Tots (14:53) a cartoon featuring his puppet characters drawn in limited animation. It's amusing, but not even halfway through I had lost interest. If the characters aren't that engaging when they are imbued with the magic of ventriloquism, having them just be voiced animated characters isn't likely to work.
Also included are some Lionsgate trailers and a code for a digital copy of the show.
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