Little Miss Sunshine

little missLittle Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, 2006) wr. Michael Arndt

Alan Arkin, Abigail Breslin, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Paul Dano

A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus.

Great casting, great script, great acting. Lots of fun. I've seen a few films lately that had a twenty-minute idea that got dragged out for ninety. This is a long form narrative, with a ninety-minute plot that is sustained by several sub-plots - one per main character, I suppose - making a complex work of art that satisfies in many different ways.
The writer won both an Oscar and a BAFTA, as did Alan Arkin - despite his character dying halfway through. ... Whoops, that's a spoiler! ... Here are some more.

In Albuquerque, Sheryl Hoover [Toni Collette] brings her suicidal brother Frank [Steve Carell] to the breast of her dysfunctional and emotionally bankrupted family. Frank is homosexual, an expert in Proust. He tried to commit suicide when he was rejected by his boyfriend and his great competitor became renowned and recognized as number one in the field of Proust. Sheryl's husband Richard [Greg Kinnear] is unsuccessfully trying to sell his self-help and self-improvement technique using nine steps to reach success, but he is actually a complete loser. Her son Dwayne [Paul Dano] has taken a vow of silence as a follower of Nietzsche and aims to be a jet pilot. Dwayne's grandfather Edwin [Alan Arkin] was sent away from the institution an elders, Sunset Manor, and is addicted to heroin. When her seven-year-old daughter Olive [Abigail Breslin] has a chance to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in Redondo Beach, California, the whole family travels together in their Volkswagen Kombi in a funny journey of hope of winning the talent contest and to making a dream come true. IMDb.

A gentle family satire and a classic American road movie, Little Miss Sunshine harks back to the anti-establishment, countercultural comedies of the 1970s such as Smile or Harold and Maude - satirical fairy tales that preached the virtues of nonconformity over the superficiality of conventional American values.
Little Miss Sunshine
shows us a world in which there's a form, a brochure, a procedure, a job title, a diet, a step-by-step program, a career path, a prize, a retirement community, to quantify, sort, categorize and process every human emotion or desire. Nothing exists that cannot be compartmentalized or turned into a self-improvement mantra about 'winners and losers'. Roger Ebert.


Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 2 October, 2019 | Now: 2 October, 2019