Little Miss Sunshine (2006) (R)













The Hoovers are a typical dysfunctional family, but not in the normal way (yes I do realize that's a contradiction). They each have their quirks and characteristics that distinguish them from the ordinary family while proving to everyone that there's nothing special about them. Every family has that relative. Every family has the people that they can't stand to be around yet are related to and each one of those people have their own little hobbies.
Olive Hoover is the youngest of the Hoover children, the offspring of Sheryl and Richard. She has one brother, Dwayne, who has taken a vow of silence thanks to the works of Frederich Nietzsche.
Olive competes in little girl beauty pageants, much like the infamous "Toddlers and Tiaras" or Honey-Boo Boo. She is a highly motivated little girl whose energy seems to have no end. Her grandfather is coaching her on how to be a successful beauty queen and is helping her choreograph her routine for the big pageant, the Little Miss Sunshine pageant.
Unfortunately, the people who were going to take Olive to the pageant had to drop out at last minute. Add on to this the fact that Sheryl's suicidal brother, Frank, can't be left alone and they aren't about to leave him home with Dwayne. So they all pack into their lovely yellow van and set off to Redondo Beach, California.
It's a road trip movie, yet, it certainly is.
Grandpa has as many quirks as anyone else in the movie except his include dirty magazines and illegal drugs. He encourages Dwayne to step outside of his comfort zone in a hilariously uncomfortable scene that takes place solely in the backseat of the van. It's Grandpa who actually teaches the morals of the movie, after some coarse language and jokes, of course.
Dwayne only wants to fly airplanes and he vows that he won't speak until he achieves his goal, again, thanks to Nietzsche.
Richard is a failed motivational speaker who has a "step-by-step" path to success and Sheryl is crumbling under the stress of financial difficulties. Now add a few bizarre circumstances and mix in more stress and you have a perfect setting for a comedy.
The journey that they take together is one filled with heartache, love, and laughs.
"Little Miss Sunshine" is one of the best comedies ever made. It's absolutely one of my favorites and one of the truly original and creative laugh-inducing films.
This movie contains such great performances, from Alan Arkin as the druggie Grandpa to Abigail Breslin as the naive and susceptible Olive and Paul Dano as Dwayne. Each one of the actors show their skill and enhance the story to where its much more than just words on a page. The most notable of all the performances is Steve Carell as Frank. He ditches the dry humor and is actually the least funny of all the actors, but he is the most powerful as well. It's always a good surprise when comedy actors try their hand at a dramatic role and succeed, look at Jim Carrey in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" or Whoopi Goldberg in "The Color Purple". These performances are often the most poignant.
"Little Miss Sunshine" has so much heart that sometimes it's hard not to cry at the simplistic beauty of the picture. From topics like little girl's body image to lost love, the film holds nothing back.
It's got it's funny moments, oh yes, plenty of those; but it's heart is so big that sometimes you forget that you're watching a comedy.

Score: 4 out of 4 stars

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