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Overall Rating
4.24

Awesome56.3%
Worth A Look: 21.01%
Average: 16.81%
Pretty Bad: 2.52%
Total Crap: 3.36%

9 reviews, 65 user ratings


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Little Miss Sunshine
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by Smiles

"Way more than a road trip movie!"
5 stars

On the surface Little Miss Sunshine may seem like a typical road trip movie. A family of six gets into a VW bus and drive to California for a beauty pageant. Or it may seem like a dysfunctional family drama since it deals with a family in various states of crisis. Little Miss Sunshine can be described as both but it is far more than the sum of its parts of won’t be wrangled into one category.

On the surface Little Miss Sunshine may seem like a typical road trip movie. A family of six gets into a VW bus and drive to California for a beauty pageant. Or it may seem like a dysfunctional family drama since it deals with a family in various states of crisis. Little Miss Sunshine can be described as both but it is far more than the sum of its parts of won’t be wrangled into one category.

Abigail Breslin is 7-year-old Oliver Hoover. She dreams of being a beauty pageant queen and at the last minute has the chance to participate in the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant. This couldn’t come at a worse time. Her dad, Richard (Greg Kinnear) is trying to sell his 9 step self help program and it’s not going well. Her mom, Sheryl (Toni Collette) is trying to keep the family going which just got harder because she has to take in her gay suicidal brother Frank (Steve Carell) who just tried to kill himself after his lover left him. Her brother Dwayne (Paul Dano), who has taken a vow of silence until he gets in to the Air Force Academy, refuses to go (and tells his family by writing it on a piece of paper). The only one who is ready to make the trip is Grandpa (Alan Arkin) who is Olive’s pageant coach by day and snorts heroin by night.

Since plane tickets are out of the question, the whole family commence on a cross-country trip in a beat up VW bus from Albuquerque to Redondo Beach to help make Olive’s dreams come true. Along the way they encounter one obstacle after another, the next more ridiculous than the last, which test their resolve as a family.

The way this family deals with these obstacles are the soul of the movie. Screenwriter Michael Ardnt has weaved a story about the struggle to achieve your dreams that makes you laugh when you want to cry. He can take the simple experience of ordering breakfast into a painful foray of societies pressure to be thin as Richard counsels his daughter about the pitfalls of ice cream. And on the flip side Ardnt can take the trying experience of getting pulled over by the police into the hysterical with the help of some porn magazines. He layers these events one on top of the other for a sparkling and satisfying finale.

Giving life into these three dimensional characters is a diverse and accomplished cast. Greg Kinnear lives and breathes the zealot philosophy of Richard without missing a beat. He has matured well as an actor since his days on Talk Soup. And as his on screen wife Toni Collette gives another skillful performance with her convincing depiction of the struggles of mid America. Steve Carell can convey profound depression with a single look and is practically the opposite of his character on The Office. And Alan Arkin (who probably has some of the best lines of the movie) takes a prickly old man and gives him a soul without being sappy.

The kids get in on the act as well. Paul Dano pointedly portrays the depths of teenage despair despite not talking for most of the film. Abigail Breslin she gives a fresh and fun rendition of kid who is happy to be herself and at the same time someone you want to protect from herself.

At the helm of the movie are first time directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. The married co-directors come from a background of music videos and handle the delicate plot with ease. Making a film about loosing your dreams, inner beauty, drug use and suicide that is funny and poignant can come off as heavy-handed but not here. And perhaps due to their experience with music the movie has an appropriate sound track.

This movie created huge buzz at Sundance and was picked up for $10.5 million, the most a film has sold for at the festival. Given what was spent for this summer’s ‘blockbusters’ that is a bargain price for a fresh movie going experience. The end sequence of Little Miss Sunshine could take on of any of the superheroes on screen this summer. And this movie can too.

This movie created huge buzz at Sundance and was picked up for $10.5 million, the most a film has sold for at the festival. Given what was spent for this summer’s ‘blockbusters’ that is a bargain price for a fresh movie going experience. The end sequence of Little Miss Sunshine could take on of any of the superheroes on screen this summer. And this movie can too.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=13577&reviewer=383
originally posted: 07/28/06 07:52:14
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/14/15 ER Great script, greater acting without a false note. 5 stars
6/03/10 User Name Smart, charming, and origianl; basically, it's all that Hollwood isn't.. 4 stars
5/03/10 PAUL SHORTT WINNING COMEDY-DRAMA WITH A GOOD CAST 4 stars
8/06/09 Simon Funny, sincere, inspiring, well-acted... A rare complete dramedy 5 stars
8/01/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess for a truly great blend of black comedy and harsh reality see, something by Todd Solondz. 2 stars
7/10/09 the dork knight Why didn't the jurors just shut the music off? 4 stars
5/15/08 matt this movie's the bomb diggety! 5 stars
5/03/08 Pamela White real life can suck your dreams out of you. 5 stars
4/30/08 Mintaka A brilliant satire that lived up to all my high expectations. 5 stars
2/03/08 Anne I don't see many films more than once, but this one, I did 5 stars
12/06/07 Adrian A chick movie I liked! 4 stars
7/27/07 Alisa Ann I saw it last night, and it was a very good movie 5 stars
7/11/07 Hello Stranger abigail is awesome in this. so heartwarming this movie 5 stars
6/09/07 MP Bartley Just lovely. Superb ensemble acting. 4 stars
5/30/07 John A perfect blend of comedy with grim reality, hope with failure. 5 stars
5/02/07 Anthony One of the best films of 2006. An absolute gem of a movie. 5 stars
4/29/07 Tim thought is was bad smut, the worst, had to have no brain to write such junk. 1 stars
4/29/07 Geraldine Quirky, dysfunctional, hilarious, heartwarming 5 stars
3/22/07 G so cute-- even the most dysfunctional families CAN come together 4 stars
3/03/07 Ann I LOVED this movie! It really puts family life & sticking together in perspective =] 5 stars
3/01/07 Donny M Worst movie ever. 1 stars
1/28/07 Edith Tide Reasonably entertaining comedy, but Oscar noms. only highlight what a lean year 2006 was. 3 stars
1/24/07 dbx Predictable, contrived, cutesy. Should be called "Not Another Indie Movie" instead. 1 stars
1/23/07 bullit16 Very cute movie. Abigail Breslin is a star in the making. 4 stars
12/28/06 Phil M. Aficionado Liked it in spots, but clumsy overall and a bit offputtiing and hokey 3 stars
12/14/06 The Deadly Assassin The best comedy of 2006 !!! 5 stars
11/24/06 Sean Flat out Hilarious 5 stars
11/16/06 KC Absolutely charming, funny and touching film. Highly recommended. 5 stars
11/14/06 Mark Nice. heartfelt. I enjoyed it. 4 stars
10/20/06 Karan Above Perfect 5 stars
10/14/06 Eric Beautiful comedy. Only movie to ever make me cry from laughter and sadness. Perfect. 5 stars
10/12/06 John One for my All time fav. films - 5 stars
10/07/06 Laura Thoroughly impressed! Can't wait to watch it again! 5 stars
10/06/06 Kole Brilliant 5 stars
10/04/06 Monday Morning Wonderful ensemble and writing -- final product is a top-notch comedy. 5 stars
9/29/06 Hart Its heart-warming to know that Hollywood still comes out with such rare gems. A must watch. 5 stars
9/29/06 Bob Cather Sure to be on the top 10 movies of the year list. It is my # 1 pick 5 stars
9/27/06 Raj 5/5 - A rare film - Oscar material 5 stars
9/27/06 Dan Spent a perfect day wasting my time at this movie. 2 stars
9/26/06 Kristina Krumpfelhagen Better than most "disfunctional family on road trip" phliks. 4 stars
9/24/06 Clare M It has a bit of all of us in it...laughed 'till I cried 5 stars
9/21/06 Jesus Loved it, perfect. Great acting and I love Paul Dano. 5 stars
9/19/06 PD Excellent cast + performances; endearing and comedic, if a little over the top at times 4 stars
9/18/06 JAyb123 Fantastic, Best movie of the year thus far 5 stars
9/13/06 Bitchflaps Frovolous, mawkish schmaltz dressed up as a kind of Happy Shopper Royal Tenenbaums. 2 stars
9/11/06 pppppppp one of the worst movies I have ever seen. 1 stars
9/11/06 jcjs Alan Arkin, Greg Kinnear and all perfect fun, great show on many levels 5 stars
9/07/06 tony lacombe finally,a funny comedy!!!!! 5 stars
9/05/06 R.W.Welch Deftly done comedy underlayered with some pathos. Quite original. 5 stars
9/04/06 Yolanda Funny, kooky movie. Look for love in the craziness of your own family. It's there-hopefully 5 stars
8/31/06 Pn. Stop me before I laugh again! 5 stars
8/30/06 Killjoy How come Toni always does amazing films? She is a lucky mascot! 5 stars
8/28/06 Luisa Heart-warming, entertaining, funny flick...great actors! 5 stars
8/25/06 Suzz Very funny, well-acted, well-written film 5 stars
8/20/06 Bill Outstanding movie!! Can't wait to see it again. 5 stars
8/18/06 Ekkostar Worth it if Bryan Cranston is somewhere in it. 4 stars
8/17/06 nancy n pretty unrealistic, but pretty charming nontheless 4 stars
8/16/06 Josh Jolcover amazing piece of work, funny, yet dramatic, great acting 5 stars
8/14/06 Heather Dry, satirical look at the "American Dream" 5 stars
8/13/06 Mase Nice refreshing summer flick!! Toni Collette is surely one of the best actressess out there 5 stars
8/06/06 Mark A screwball comedy with a heart 4 stars
7/26/06 Andrea Bloom Best comedy I've seen in a long, long time. 5 stars
7/20/06 Irma Ecksel A delight, both funny and lots of pathos. 5 stars
5/20/06 JP BEST MOVIE AT SUNDANCE I ONLY SAW 2 thought 5 stars
1/24/06 Ellen James Amazing movie and great cast, it is perfect! Keeps you laughing the whole way through! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  26-Jul-2006 (R)
  DVD: 19-Dec-2006

UK
  08-Sep-2006

Australia
  12-Oct-2006




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