After becoming their county's entrant in the Little Miss Sunshine
pageant, seven year-old Olive's (Breslin) dream of becoming a beauty queen
could be about to come true. Training for months with her Grandpa (Arkin)
on her routine, the only thing that is holding her back is getting to California
to compete. Money is a little short in the Hoover family however so her
parents Richard (Kinnear) and Sheryl (Collette) plan to drive there in their
VW camper van all the way and they reluctantly drag her frustrated brother
Dwayne (Dano) and her suicidal Uncle Frank (Carell) again for the ride.
Once in a while a film comes along that instantly becomes
a classic of the genre and a firm favourite of everyone who sees it. 'Little
Miss Sunshine' is one of those movies.
Combining a road movie and a dysfunctional family comedian
drama, this film is filled so full of charm that you cannot help falling
in love with it. The Hoover family are as mess up as they come. Richard
is a failing motivational speaker. Sheryl is a chain-smoking housewife who
doesn't have enough time in the day to get everything done. Their son Dwayne
is rebelling against everything and has decided no to talk to anyone until
he joins the air force. Grandpa Edwin is enjoying everything he missed out
on during his younger years. Uncle Frank is recovering from a suicide attempt
after a failed relationship with one of his students. The only thing holding
them together is Olive, the sweet seven year-old little girl who just dreams
of being a beauty queen. When she gets the chance to compete in the Little
Miss Sunshine pageant, they have to pull together to get her to California
The themes of the road movie have always been a way of finding
yourself and for the Hoover family this is no different. Each family member
has a lesson to learn on the way to California but if you are expecting
the usual, uplifting Hollywood family story then you are in for a delightful
disappointment. This is as far removed from usual as you can get. Honest,
realistic and genuinely funny, following the Hoover family's journey to
California is one that you will want to accompany them on.
With a script and characters to draw you in to the Hoover's
lives, you needed an ensemble cast to bring them to life. No stranger to
lower budget, ensemble pieces both Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette are excellent
as Richard and Sheryl. They are not your typical Hollywood parents, with
each of them having their problems that make for conflict, arguments and
self-doubt. Both Kinnear and Collette make these characters very believeable
and easy to connect with. Steve Carell is successfully mixing a big Hollywood
movie career with one of on the small screen but this role as Frank, the
homosexual, suicidal uncle, is one that shows the diversity of his talent.
This is a very restrained comedic performance from the usual manic Carell
that reveal again that he is an exceptional character actor. Alan Arkin
steals every scene he graces as the drug taking Grandpa, who is enjoying
his final years to the full. This is a role that he reveals in and provides
most of the genuine laughs throughout the road trip section of the film.
Paul Dano continues to make a splash and his role as the Dwayne. Even though
he doesn't speak for most of the film, he does make a major impact. Abigail
Breslin is adorable as the extremely sweet Olive, the only sane member of
the family and the one who they all want to pull together for.
'Little Miss Sunshine' is a gem of a movie and one of the
best family comedy dramas to come along in a very long time. There is so
much to enjoy here, from the quality of script to the brilliance of the
performances, that this movie is bound to become a firm favourite for everyone.
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1, the
presentation is good.
Alternative Endings with optional commentary by directors Jonathan
Dayton and Valerie Faris (4.58 mins)
Watch the four different endings to 'Little Miss Sunshine' with optional
commentary by the directors.
Director's Commentary by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
What starts off as a reluctant commentary turns into an insight into independent
filmmaking. They reveal the six years of work went into producing the
movie. The pair also talk about researching pageants, how the script developed
and the actors became involved. This is a good commentary from two filmmakers
with a very bright future.
Previews of 'Arrested Development', 'The Devil Wears Prada', 'The History
Boys' and 'The Queen'
Fans of the movie might be disappointed with the lack of extras on the
DVD but the commentary track is very good. A few interviews and some behind
the scenes footage should have been included however.
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