Little Miss SunshineI finally got to see Little Miss Sunshine yesterday, at The Campus Theater in Lewisburg, PA.  This film is another example of a well-made independent film building enough momentum via film festivals and word-of-mouth, that it could spread from limited release to wide release with a very small promotion budget (think Napolean Dynamite).  The film ran a lot deeper than you typically expect from a comedy, while still providing “smart humor.”

The film revolves around an extremely dysfunctional family, and their journey cross-country to take 7 year-old Olive (Abigail Breslin) to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant.  Richard (Greg Kinnear), plays Olive’s father, who tries to promote his 9 step plan to success, but it has never taken off.  Much of the dysfunction in the family results from Richard pushing his plan upon his family.  During the scenes where Richard pushes his plan on Olive, the audience gets a first-hand look at the psyche of a child; such as how a child relates to images in media and what success means to them. 

The dysfunction in the family was so extreme, that it was almost depressing at times, but the director, Jonathan Dayton, timed the comic parts very well to ease the mood.  There were many laugh out loud moments in the film, but it also featured many “heart-warming” scenes as well.  I thought Steve Carell was hilarious in the film, but my favorite character was the Grandpa, Alan Arkin.  He gave a new spin to the foul-mouthed dirty old man. 

With a family driving cross-country, I felt the cinematography could have been a little better, by using more variation on the establishing shots.  However, I really liked the stationary long shots where the VW bus drove from one end of the frame to the other.  Also, just a minor thing, I don’t know whether it was only because of the theater I was in, but when the horn broke and went off incessantly, got very irritating very fast.

Overall I thought it was among the best comedies I’ve seen this year.  The film had an excellent script, a great cast, and was very original.  It’s no wonder it won Best Feature – World Cinema Audience Award at the 2006 Sydney Film Festival and a standing ovation at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.

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4 Responses to “Review: Little Miss Sunshine”  

  1. 1 Grant Pitel

    How does this movie compare to Royal Tenebaums? The premise for that movie and Little Miss Sunshine appear to be similiar.

  2. 2 Adam Pitel

    Well, for starters, the humor was a lot less dry than The Royal Tenenbaums, but the characters were kind of similar now that you mention it. Though, I think they made it much easier to relate to the characters in Little Miss Sunshine. Besides that, the story is completely different. The Royal Tenenbaums was borderline weird (except Pagoda, he was amazing), this film was a lot more down to Earth.

  3. 3 Brooke

    HI :-D

  4. 4 Kent

    I wonder what all the fuss is about. This movie is awful. These charactors have no redeeming qualities at all. I mean what is the purpose of the gay uncle who tries to commit suicide because he isn’t the best scholar around, or the teenager who won’t speak until he gets to be a jet pilot, or for the scatter brained mother who seems just around for the ride?

    At least I would want to like these people and for the most part, I don’t.

    The only person I liked even a little bit was the little girl but she is influenced by a foul mouthed, drug using, porn reading, grandfather who teaches her to do a strip tease for her talent portion of the beauty contest.

    If I saw one more scene of these sickos running to get into their old van that has a clutch that is broken I think I would have screamed and not from laughter.

    I give the movie a D-, not an F only because the grandfather says to the little girl that winning isn’t the only thing that as long as you try you are not a loser, in contrast to his loser son, the so called motivation speaker, who always says winning is the only thing but can’t seem to win himself.

    Most of the reviews are good. Am I the only one who thinks this is garbage?

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