Sunday, March 25, 2007


RUNTIME: 101 min.
RATING: *****

Meet the most likeable dysfunctional family in recent history- The Hoovers. There’s dad Richard Hoover (Greg Kinnear) who has segregated the world into winners and losers and his own nine steps to being a winner is the eternal truth for him. There’s grandpa (Alan Arkin), a foul-mouthed, porno-heroin-addict. There’s son Dwayne (Paul Dano), a huge fan of Nietzsche and taken a vow of silence till he becomes an Air Force pilot. There’s Uncle Frank (Steve Carrell), a man fresh from a suicide attempt after a failed love affair with a student, there’s the mama Sheryl (Toni Collette) who’s desperately holding everyone together, although does little cooking. And then there’s little Olive (Abigail Breslin) who dreams of being a beauty queen and has recently been runner-up in an under-10 beauty pageant contest. And all this family has for dinner it seems is products from KFC as mama isn’t a big fan of cooking. What happens when you put them all on a road trip to California to have Olive participate in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant on a mini bus that has a couple of gears missing, just like the family? A ride that is one of the most entertaining and heartwarming of recent years.
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE is one of the family movies in recent cinema history. It is strange that debut directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who until now have directed music videos and TV commercials, have taken such a conventional approach since directors with this sort of background usually have a taste for the flashy editing and skewed camera tricks. They do what good directors do in good comedies, let the characters develop and the humor will follow suit.
Speaking of which, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE isn’t a laugh out loud comedy, if you’re expecting one. This is one little gem that has a lot of substance going along with its humor, humor that is bordering on dark comedy. It really takes smart people at the helm for a movie, a feel-good movie, to include addiction, suicide and porn. What’s even more fantastic is the ending that remarkably feels upbeat when it is all about losing. It is not only the directors or the debut screenwriter Michael Arndt, who by the way quit his job as assistant to Matthew Broderick to write the screenplay, but the ensemble cast that gives remarkable performances. There’s Greg Kinnear who just dazzles me more with every movie. He is one of the best comic actors around, and what’s so remarkable is that with him it is never about laugh out loud humor. It is more of a character driven one, be it AS GOOD AS IT GETS or his small turn in YOU’VE GOT MAIL, the loser in THE MATADOR or in FAST FOOD NATION, Greg Kinnear is always a joy to watch. An actor upon whom you can rely blindly to give a subtle, heart warming performance always. There’s Toni Collette, one of the better actresses in around. She’s as effortless in comedies as in heavy dramas, remember THE HOURS? As in last year’s IN HER SHOES, she’s remarkable in every sequence she’s in. Alan Arkin won the Academy award for his turn and expectedly steals every scene he’s in. Paul Dano, although doesn’t utter a dialogue for most of the movie, is quite special. Then there’s little miss sunshine Abigail Breslin whom we first saw in Manoj Night Shayamalan’s SIGNS. Breslin displays a maturity in her performance that most actors her age do not possess. She’s never cute, but she sure is a darling. Be her curiosity about Uncle Frank’s suicide attempt or her quietly moving to her brother to get him to move along, Breslin is just plain wonderful. But the performance of the movie has to be from Steve Carrell. Bittersweet in tone, he brings in the most laughs and is the most heartrending. The tone is different to THE 40-YEAR OLD VIRGIN and Carrell handles it fantastically well. He just follows the character and the humor follows suit. One of the best things I like in a movie is great actors interact. That is one thing I savor in movies and if you too share the trait, there’s no better movie in recent times than LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE.
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE won the Best picture and three other awards at the Sundance Film festival. And unlike most indie feel-good movies, it is a genuine crowd pleaser. Amidst all the humor the movie so effortlessly passes on its message. A family of losers in a world crazy with winning. A winner is a person who’s either monetarily fantastic or famous as a beauty queen. LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE humors the winning crazy environment but never does it stall. A wonderful screenplay, it basically stresses on the human relations and lets the message take care of itself. And it is amazing that after the initial burst of satire and quirky one-liners, the movie settles into a nice gear where you gradually warm up to each of the characters. And by the end, I admit, I wanted to jump on to the stage and dance like crazy with the Hoovers. There’re quite a few laughs to be had, especially the mini-bus that needed to be pushed to 15 miles per hour before everyone jumped into it. The mini bus itself is a nice wonderful character.
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE is a movie not to be missed. Although it contains some profanity, this is the movie I recommend you to take each and every family member to. Movies as entertaining, as original, as smart and as warm as these seldom come. And when they come, we need to grab it with both hands, shouldn’t we? One of the most adorable feel good movies of recent times.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I never thought i would be commenting on this movie, but after seeing ***** i can't resist .
It is an attempt to please those people who wan't to see some reality in comedy movies and if some hidden message is there it is amazing.It tries everything .Comic scenes(barring a few I found all scenes attempts to make people laugh even though the scene doesn't merit it), Message hidden in the movie (which was quite clear in the first few scenes itself), Emotional bonding ( I found none ) , Unusual ending (which made people to like this movie)they came out saying (those who think they are more sane they only thought) it is differrent because the girl didn't win man this is reality...
I would have liked more had the girl won to keep it simple.
Please don't mention the stage dance of the family members it was disgusting to say the least, why could they not keep it till the girl dance I still can't understand, but it pleased many for it was (light or lagh out ) comedy they said or thought (whatever the case).

On the whole I felt movie deserves *** (if you are more generous that is you could connect to this movie or you found it quite near to our present social system which is quite unlikely ***1/2 ).