Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

I wrote this awhile back for another site, but here it is now with a few notes and improvements.

Just when you think that the world can’t become worse than the capitalistic cesspool of consumerism it’s become, that’s when it happens. When you finally don’t know where to turn, what to do, the world still finds a way to surprise you, to give you that tiny ray of yes, sunshine. When you think you’ve finally reached your breaking point, that you’re just going to break down into anguished sobs, you get glassy-eyed by the simplistic beauty of a wonderful movie. Am I being a tad bit overdramatic in the impact that Little Miss Sunshine had on me? Perhaps, but working retail at this time of year (or being currently unemployed) will have you clutching at any piece of wonderful.

Little Miss Sunshine was probably the best reviewed movie of 2006, and there’s absolutely nothing I can think of to say that hasn’t been written already. It’s a wonderfully touching exploration of a family that on the surface seems deeply dysfunctional but at the heart is just like yours and mine. I’d love nothing more than to sit down with my family and watch this movie, but they’d hate it because they have terrible taste in movies.

Written by Michael Arndt and directed by the husband and wife team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Sunshine starts by introducing the cast in a fairly unflinchingly open and honest fashion. Olive (Abigail Breslin) is a precocious little butterball of a child, Richard (Greg Kinnear) is a failing self-help seminar creator, Sheryl (Toni Collette) is Richard’s harried wife, Dwayne (Paul Dano) seems to be nothing more than a sulking emo kid, Grandpa (Alan Arkin) is a heroin sniffing loudmouth, and Frank (Steve Carell)… well Frank’s in the hospital because he just failed at killing himself. This family takes to the road in an effort to get Olive to the Little Miss Sunshine Pagent in Redondo Beach, California.

As is usually expected of a road trip movie, the scenery and filming of the movie is gorgeous, capturing desert vistas and shockingly blue skies under (over?) concrete freeways in such a fashion that you don’t want to turn your eyes away for a second. The score is wonderful, building throughout the introductions of all the characters and hitting all the right notes at all the right times. Then there’s the cast. Wow. If this were a Disney movie, you’d probably have been driven mad by the desire to punch Olive in the face, but thankfully Dayton and Faris reign in the cute and let Breslin just be real. Kinnear plays a convincing asshole and still brings you around to feel for his character later on. Alan Arkin, Toni Collette and Paul Dano all deliver wonderful performances, but for the most part it’s the Steve Carell and Abigail Breslin Show. Carell is so understated in his performance that if it weren’t for little nuances of his that I picked up on while watching “The Office”, I’d say there’s no way that man could ever play an ass like Michael Scott.

The acting is tremendous but not overblown, the storyline engaging and fun, and the entire cast deserve award nominations for their work here (it was nominated for four Oscars, winning two). Not to mention the great choices the directors made while making the movie and the execution of the whole thing. It’s a touching movie, one that made me feel something again at a time where I am feeling super bleak about my future.

5 / 5

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About SkoochXC
Long-time blogger, Canadian, cine-snark-aphile, Tweeter and generally lonely hearted guy.

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