Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
  • Time: 101 min
  • Genre: Adventure | Comedy | Drama
  • Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
  • Cast: Abigail Breslin, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin


The Hoover family is the dictionary definition for the word “dysfunctional”. The dad Richard is a man who gives lectures on winners and losers, the wife is Sheryl, a chain-smoking, frazzled wife and working mother whose idea of a home cooked meal frequently consists of a bucket of chicken. Her gay brother Frank recently attempted suicide. The grandpa is Edwin, a drug addict. The son is Dwayne a rebel who has vowed not to talk until he gets into the Air Force. And then there is Olive, a seven-year old girl who dreams of going to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant. So what happens when they do?

One comment

  • Pleasant, charming, witty, fantastic, emotional. These words don’t even begin to describe how great of a film Little Miss Sunshine is. It’s the best picture nominated winner of two academy awards (Best supporting actor and best original screenplay) that follows a quirky and strange family across the country in their VW bus as they head for California with dogged determination to enter their daughter into the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. The oddball family includes Olive (Abigail Breslin) the youngest of the family and who is entering the pageant. Her parents are Sheryl and Richard (Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear), Olive’s suicidal uncle Frank (Steve Carell), Olive’s silent brother Dwayne (Paul Dano), and her jaded yet loving grandfather Edwin, played by Alan Arkin in an academy award winning role. Together, this family provides us with some of the most charming laughs and some of the most tear jerking, heart wrenching moments of true human emotion that will bring a tear or a smile to your face.

    This is a film that is all about the characters and their relationships that develop over the course of the film, and they are, each and every one of them, fantastically written characters. They are so incredibly human that you believe every word and every action that occurs on the screen. When the film begins all of the characters are drastically flawed people. In fact, none of the characters are even all that likable. Richard is full of himself and tries to force his ideas on everybody around him. Sheryl is under constant stress and can’t get her life together. Dwayne comes across as nothing but a whiny punk teenager who hates the world. Uncle Frank is a pretty pathetic loser who seems to have given up on himself. And Grandpa Edwin has nothing but love for his granddaughter, but resents everyone else. He constantly complains about his past and at first seems like nothing but an angry old man with nothing to live for.

    But the character we immediately fall in love with is the adorable Olive. Her heart is full of nothing but innocence and sweetness and she is in fact what brings this family together to share this love and compassion. And through her we are able to fall in love with all of these characters by the end of the film. It is character development magic at work, and it works perfectly. The more we learn about these characters the more we enjoy them, and the more they learn about themselves the more they love each other. It is incredibly moving to see a family that begins the film so detached from each other come so far and so close together that by the end of the film they are all new people. Their perceptions of each other change so much for the better, as does the viewers perceptions of these characters. It is a practically flawless developmental arc.

    There’s something about this film where even if something happens that doesn’t seem realistic or seems a little too over-the-top you just don’t care. The film makes any and all of its absurdities work and there just wasn’t a moment of this film that I didn’t enjoy. In fact I adored almost every moment of the film. Everything that this film tried to accomplish worked stunningly well. It is such a touching story that provides an excellent balance of clever laughs and tears that aren’t forced upon you by an easy script. This isn’t a film that tells us how to feel. It is just done with such wondrous talent and pure emotional integrity that we can’t help but fall in love with it.

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