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Little Miss Sunshine

2006 Independent comedy-drama

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'Being a Winner is only a state of mind'

  • Dec 21, 2006
  • by
Rating:
+5
and being a winner of a film based on so many potentially disastrous bits of black comedy works exceedingly well! As opposed to some of the movies of the recent past (Borat, American Pie, Waiting, the National Lampoon endless series, etc) LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE starts with a smart script by Michael Arndt that addresses many of the highly dysfunctional family elements present in today's society and allows us to hold a few mirrors up to our own vaguely warped view of good and bad, right and wrong, ambition and self destructive delusion and makes us laugh - at times embarrassed, at times just having fun!

Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris direct this odd little story of a family in Albuquerque, NM, a family comprised of a grandfather (Alan Arkin) whose 'elderly status' allows him to speak inappropriately grossly and frankly to his grandchildren while snorting coke in the bathroom; a father (Greg Kinnear, who just gets better and better) with a motivational program scheme that is melting toward failure; a mother (the extraordinary Toni Collette) who attempts to cope with her role as the matriarch of this weird group; the mother's brother (Steve Carell), a gay Proustian scholar who has just lost his job over an affair with a grad student and has survived an unsuccessful suicide attempt; a space-cadet teenage son (Paul Dano) who is in a vow of silence as he pursues Nietzsche and extracting promises for his future from his intimidated parents; and last, but most important, a chubby little sister Olive (Abigail Breslin) who dotes on Miss America pageant reruns on TV and longs to tryout for the Little Miss Sunshine beauty/talent show for little girls in Southern California.

The bulk of the film is a road trip which confines this very strange family in an RUV headed for the only bit of positive hope for change in Olive's ploy to become Little Miss Sunshine. Along the trip we get to know these oddballs personally and in the end the results of the family effort competition seem almost secondary to the fun of getting there. Each of the performers is at peak form in acting and the direction and pacing would be difficult to improve. The film accomplishes what comedy sets as a goal: it entertains us while allowing us to take a second look at our own foibles, and that makes for a fun and healthy outing. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, December 06

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More Little Miss Sunshine reviews
review by . May 12, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Lil' Miss Can't Be Wrong
Every year the box offices around the world have at least one movie which surprisingly will earn a killing & leave me completely baffled. OK, that's too broad. Let me try again. The film will definitely rack up at the box offices but the film is somewhat of an indie fave. Does that help any? These films aren't especially bad  & could actually be enjoyable films on any given day but..just don't seem to be anything really special overall & I  don't get the mass hype surrounding …
Quick Tip by . June 15, 2010
Favorite!
review by . December 08, 2008
In the past few years, there has been an onslaught of adorable, indie films. Some of them I have loved. Some of them I've disliked -- mostly because I find them too precious, too strategically quirky and "unconventional." In many senses, Little Miss Sunshine falls into both categories. It is both a wonderfully charming film, full of soul and vitality. But it sometimes falls into some of the quirkier-than-thou cliches, which is what prevented me from giving a higher score. But I liked it -- period. …
review by . February 11, 2009
DVD
This very funny comedy concerns Olive, a sweet little seven-year old who wants to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in California. She lives with her eccentric family in New Mexico, so the whole brood piles into the old VW bus for a road trip, and there's never a dull moment. Her father (Greg Kinnear) is a failed motivational speaker, her grandfather (Alan Arkin) is a trouble-making curmudgeon, her uncle (Steve Carell) is suicidal, her mother (Toni Collette) is always screaming, and her …
review by . June 03, 2008
Little Olive just wants to enter the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant. Her parents are going to take her there. Run-of-the-mill family road trip, right? What could possibly go wrong? Add into the mix a suicidal uncle, a brother who's taken the vow of silence, and a grandfather who was kicked out of a retirement home for snorting heroin, and you've got the perfect recipe for unpredictable disaster that's anything but ordinary.  This is one of those movies where outrageous and consequently hilarious …
review by . November 01, 2008
Six people in a mini-bus   Driving from Albuquerque   These folk are so dysfunctional   They're way past being "quirky"     Dad's nine steps are faltering   Mom's just tired and stressed   Granddad's snorting heroin   While Uncle is depressed     Brother's chosen to be mute   His family gets him down   Olive only wants a chance   To win a pageant crown     Trouble …
review by . June 10, 2008
Despite its somewhat quirky story line, Little Miss Sunshine is not only great to watch, but is something that one can easily relate to. Unlike your typical movie that paints the picture of the perfect American family, Little Miss Sunshine shows the more realistic side of the typical family dichotomy--financial worries, care of elderly relatives, depression, and dreams deferred.The movie provides a funny, albeit exaggerated, perspective on the things that bind us together even when life is not going …
review by . May 05, 2008
Pros: Wonderful ensemble cast. Well acted. Alan Arkin's lines.     Cons: Drags in a couple of spots. Alan Arkin's lines.     The Bottom Line: Strange and wonderful, well acted and unique. I've never seen anything like it. I have seen it at least six times and I love it more for repeat watching.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot. "You don't speak because of Frederic Nietzsche? (pause) Cool." One …
review by . May 24, 2007
When I first saw this film, I was mightily disapointed. It had been pushed as a comedy, so I expected to, you know, laugh. I didn't. Well, not until the pagent scene. The look on Greg Kinnear's face was priceless, and pretty well summed-up my view of such pagents.    But I could tell there was something good in this movie, so about a month later I watched it again, and was much happier. The performances by the entire cast were wonderful, particularly Alan Arkin. I was also pleased …
review by . April 04, 2007
I saw this with a group of friends who didn't know much about the film. After about 30 minutes, one of them commented, "Is this suppose to be a comedy?" That's pretty much the feeling for the first half of the film, but once the characters are established, the viewer is set up for one of the most charming displays of a family bonding ever in a film.    The family is extremely messed up. It felt like we were visiting a home where we were seeing things that we shouldn't be seeing. …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #97
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Little Miss Sunshine is a comedy-drama about a dysfunctional family's road trip to a children's beauty pageant. The film won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature and starred Greg Kinnear, Steve Carrell, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin, and Alan Arkin.
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Movies, Comedy Movies, Indie Movies, Steve Carell Movies, Alan Arkin Movies, Steve Carell, Paul Dano Movies, Greg Kinnear Movies, Toni Collette Movies, Abigail Breslin Movies, Little Miss Sunshine
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