Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
My Rating: 4.5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “Simple, Imaginative and Elegant – truly refreshing!”
“Little Miss Sunshine” is an American family road comedy that shatters the mold. Brazenly satirical and yet deeply human, the film introduces audiences to one of the most endearingly fractured families in recent cinema history: the Hoovers, whose trip to a pre-pubescent beauty pageant results not only in comic mayhem but in death, transformation and a moving look at the surprising rewards of being losers in a winning-crazed culture. A runaway hit at the Sundance Film Festival, where it played to standing ovations, the film strikes a nerve with everyone who’s ever been awestruck by how their muddled families seem to make it after all. No one among the Hoovers quite has it together, but it’s not for lack of trying. Father Richard (GREG KINNEAR), a hopelessly optimistic motivational speaker, is desperately attempting to sell his 9-step program for success — without much success. Meanwhile, the Hoovers’ “pro-honesty” mother Sheryl (TONI COLLETTE) is constantly harried by her family’s eccentric secrets, especially those of her brother (STEVE CARELL), a suicidal Proust scholar fresh out of the hospital after being jilted by his gay lover. Then there are the younger Hoovers with their unlikely dreams — the four-eyed, slightly plump, seven year-old would-be beauty queen Olive (ABIGAIL BRESLIN) and Dwayne (PAUL DANO), an anger-fueled, Nietzsche-reading teen who has taken a staunch vow of silence until he gets into the Air Force Academy.
Topping off the family is the grandfather (ALAN ARKIN), a foul-mouthed pleasure-seeker recently kicked out of his retirement home for snorting heroin. They might not be the picture of perfect mental health, but when a fluke gets Olive invited to compete in the fiercely competitive “Little Miss Sunshine” competition in California, the whole Hoover family rallies behind her. They pile into their rusted-out VW bus and head West on a three-day tragicomic journey filled with madcap surprises and leading up to Olive’s big debut — which will change the entire misfit family in ways they could never imagine. “Little Miss Sunshine” features the directorial debut of renowned music video directors (and husband-and-wife team) Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who direct from a script by Michael Arndt. The film is produced by Big Beach and Bona Fide Productions, with Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, Marc Turtletaub, David T. Friendly and Peter Saraf serving as producers, and Jeb Brody and Michael Beugg as executive producers. The production team includes director of photography Tim Suhrstedt, production designer Kalina Ivanov, costume designer Nancy Steiner, editor Pamela Martin, composer Mychael Danna and the up-and-coming band DeVotchka.