guppy's film reviews

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

Year: 2006
Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Notable Actors: Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Alan Arkin, Paul Dano
Score: A-
Summary: Twisted, smart comedy, very much worth seeing.

Little Miss Sunshine is a new comedy directed by husband-and-wife team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, which works much better than you'd think. It's the story of Olive, a little girl with beauty queen aspirations, and her dysfunctional family: Sheryl (Collette), Olive's mother, who is trying to hold her family together; Richard (Kinnear), her husband, who is obsessed with his own self-improvement plan; Frank, Sheryl's gay, suicidal Proust scholar brother; Dwayne (Dano), Sheryl's son, who has taken a vow of silence and absolutely loathes his entire family; and Olive's drug-abusing, foul-mouthed grandfather and pageant routine coach. The plot revolves around the family's mission to get Olive to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant.

The most obvious concern here is that it was directed by a married couple. I'm happy to report that it's not a problem at all -- the directing is very solid, no complaints here. If you're like me and didn't like Steve Carell's last movie, I am again happy to say that this one fared much better. It's a smart movie that doesn't always go for the obvious joke, or the obvious plot device.

As you might expect, Sunshine is really about the characters, all of whom play pretty well together. The best dynamic is between uncle Frank and brother Dwayne, neither of whom are particularly happy people; they spend a good chunk of time commiserating, since Frank has been placed under Dwayne's supervision to make sure he doesn't try to kill himself again. Alan Arkin is also top-notch as the grandfather, who is a drug-abusing, porno-watching, foul-mouthed advice giver. The entire cast gives good performances; Arkin and Carell are probably the most interesting, though.

Sunshine clocks in at a pretty reasonable 101 minutes. It doesn't drag, but I did find myself checking the time once or twice. Some of the jokes get repeated a couple of times and wear a little thin, but for the most part the humor is fresh; similarly, once in a while something happens that really makes you cringe, which I don't generally care for, but I didn't have any consistent problems.

Little Miss Sunshine
is a very dark comedy with a great cast and great directing that thinks outside the box. It's worth your time and your nine bucks, so I recommend giving it a look.


  • It's a truly charming movie. A gem!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:08 PM  

  • q es q no hay un resumen ¡¡¡¡ o q ¿? yo quiero una sintesis de la pelicula ¡¡¡¡¡

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:06 AM  

  • watching it for film studies in english
    very funny

    By Blogger Lewis, at 12:20 AM  

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