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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 Peter Sobczynski

"On The Quirky-Indie-Road Yet Again"
3 stars

Ever since it ascended into prominence in 1989, every edition of the Sundance Film Festival has featured at least one film that is praised to the heavens by the Park City crowds, only to look silly and decidedly minor when viewed in an environment not dominated by thin air and people desperately searching for the Next Big Thing–such “classics” as “The Spitfire Grill” and “Happy, Texas” immediately spring to mind.

This year’s version appears to be “Little Miss Sunshine,” a decidedly average comedy-drama about a dysfunctional family making a road trip from New Mexico to California in a dilapidated VW bus so that young daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin) can participate in the titular kiddie beauty contest. The trouble is that screenwriter Michael Arndt and co-directors Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris spend so much time trying to make their characters quirky and colorful–Dad (Greg Kinnear) is a failed motivational speaker, Mom (Toni Collette) is slowly going nuts from the strain of keeping everyone sane and happy, Grandpa (Alan Arkin) is a foul-mouthed junkie and porn afficionado, son Dwayne (Paul Dano) is a sullen punk who has taken a vow of silence until he makes it into flight school and gay uncle Frank (Steve Carell) is suicidally depressed over the end of an affair with a grad student–that they have failed to give them anything interesting to do.

As a result, most of the film involves them bickering within the confines of the car, coming to terms with each other outside of it and occasionally becoming involved in such weirdness as the stealing of a corpse and climaxes with a sequence–Olive’s performance at the pageant–that is so bewildering in both concept and execution that you want to shake the filmmakers by their shoulders and ask what they possibly could have been thinking. Some of the performances here are good–I especially liked the contributions from Carell and Breslin–and there are a couple of nice scenes (the best being the one in which the family coaxes Olive, who is maybe nine years old, into eating her ice cream after her jerkwad dad reminds the tyke that it is fattening) but too much of “Little Miss Sunshine” consists of a group of actors doing slight variations of their previous performances (how many times must we see Greg Kinnear playing a self-satisfied prig?) in scenes that veer between crude slapstick and cruder moments in which each person gets their own perfectly timed crisis and resolution.

In some quarters, “Little Miss Sunshine” has been described as this year’s “Sideways” and for the life of me, I cannot begin to understand that–this is more like a variation of “National Lampoon’s Vacation” that is in desperate need of its own Cousin Eddie.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=13577&reviewer=389
originally posted: 08/04/06 13:58:28
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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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