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Little Miss Sunshine

2006 Independent comedy-drama

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Little miss I didn't laugh once and I want my 100 minutes back

  • Jan 29, 2007
Pros: Performances that were wasted on a sucky film (and that is a pro)


The Bottom Line: This is a total waste of time. I saw nothing redeeming in it. I'd give it zero stars if allowed.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.

Only very rarely do I bother reviewing a film that has more than 10 reviews already. This one stands to be the 40th review of Little Miss Sunshine. The reason I feel compelled is that the reviews for this film have been overwhelmingly positive. The movie I saw I could not consider to be in the neighborhood of 5 stars—it can see the fifth star if it had a telescope.

Little Miss Sunshine is the worst parts of a road movie mixed with the worst parts of a caper movie. A family of, there is no better word for it, losers decide to drive a rickety VW Microbus from Albuquerque to Los Angeles so that their woefully unattractive daughter can perform in a beauty pageant. That’s the plot. This means the film will be about characters rather than plot.

That sounds, to me who loves character development, like a perfect film. The problem is it isn’t. Instead of being a character study, it winds up being 6 characters in search of god only knows what.

To pull something out of left field . . . I watched O Brother Where Art Thou once and, while I found it somewhat funny, it was really more droll and I didn’t laugh at all. I watched it a second time and nearly passed out. The first time I either missed what was going on or was not in the mood. Thinking this was the case with Little Miss Sunshine, I did the same thing. I found it even less funny on the second go around.

All of the acting was great and I really don’t like several people in the film. The reason I rented it was based on the one thing that I think drove many to: Toni Collette. She turns in her usual bang-up performance, but it and the others are wasted.

Unattractive girl in a beauty pageant has been done (Drop Dead Gorgeous). Relative who dies on the way to California but continues to be driven a distance has been done (National Lampoon’s Vacation). Freaks in a bus who are going down a road to ultimate failure but will grow in the meantime has been done (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and the derivative To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar). A host of losers who really don’t do much of anything coherent and where an odd dance is performed as a show stopper has been done (Napoleon Dynamite)

I am a massive fan of dark comedy; it is extremely difficult to do well, but when it does not only do I get to laugh a lot, the part of my personality that thrives on the cloud behind the silver lining gets fed. The worst part is that on the first go around, I just didn’t care. What I wanted on the second go around was for everyone to fail. The reason for the ire is that I didn’t laugh.

The movie wasn’t absurd enough to be absurd. It wasn’t pitiful enough to rise to the level of catharsis because the characters do not notice this, so it devolves into the ridiculous. It is quirky but it never even rises to the level of cute, which gives the impression that the script was written by several neurotics who could express their anxieties, but didn’t know how to edit them to make them funny. So, they just remain pitiful.

If I cared about any of the characters, any of them, just one of them, just one part of one of them, I might have had a toehold that would allow me to understand what I’m missing where others are laughing. I love the absurd and when ridiculous is couched in mature humor or carefully crafted immature humor (anything by Kevin Smith) I can’t get enough. But I just didn’t get it here. Either I am tone deaf to the particular form of humor used in the film, or I simply am one who didn’t find it even remotely funny.

I got 100 minutes of people who hate themselves and each other. All I have to do to get that is hang around the in-laws.


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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
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
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. …
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Paul Savage ()
Ranked #56
I name and describe everything and classify most things. If 'it' already had a name, the one I just gave it is better.
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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, Paul Dano Movies, Greg Kinnear Movies, Steve Carell, Abigail Breslin Movies, Little Miss Sunshine, Toni Collette Movies
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