Home Arts-Entertainment Movies 'Little Miss Sunshine' an Unconventional Road Comedy

'Little Miss Sunshine' an Unconventional Road Comedy


Dec. 8, 2006 — Rolling into town just in time for pre-shopping giggles, "Little Miss Sunshine" is just the kind of quirky comedy to make you forget your shopping list altogether.
Ok, its a road-trip movie. But dont say "ugh" so fast. It is anything but a typical road-trip flick.
The Hoover family, if you can call them that — they lend a new dimension to the term "dysfunctional" — travel in a broken-down VW bus from Albuquerque, N.M., to Redondo Beach, Calif., to enter seven-year-old Olive (Abigail Breslin) in — you guessed it — the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant.
And therein lies the tale. However, it is written with what Ty Burr of the Boston Globe calls "the edge to open small wounds, and the grace to heal them."
Burr says, "You want to hug the Hoover family, anyway, which is surprising given how cranky and ill-fitting they seem at the start. They're middle-class suburbanites hanging on by split fingernails: Dad Richard (Kinnear) is an unemployed motivational speaker desperately trying to turn his nine-step 'Refuse to Lose' program into a book deal and a national brand. Mom Sheryl (Toni Collette) is the breadwinner ready to relegate her patience and understanding to the back of the crisper drawer. Teenage son Dwayne (Paul Dano, from 'L.I.E.') is a sullen ghost who reads Nietzsche and has taken a vow of silence until he's old enough to escape to flight school."
Then theres Alan Arkin as a heroin-snorting grandpa. He carries his stash in his fanny pack. One anonymous critic says, "Arkin, though he has played this kind of role with both hands tied behind his back and his eyes closed, still shines like a crazy diamond."
Peter Travers in Rolling Stone gets right to the heart of the matter. " It sounds puke-awful: a formula farce." But, "surprise," Travers says. "Instead of yuck, we get something wonderful: a scrappy human comedy that takes an honest path to laughs and is twice as funny and touching for it."
Better yet, Duane Byrge in the Hollywood Reporter, calls it, "A brainy blend of farce and heart; this is one of those movies that veteran moviegoers complain they don't make anymore."
Byrge and Burr both offer praise to first-time screenwriter Michael Arndt. "Screenwriter Arndt has brilliantly woven each family member's problems into an endearing and transforming amusement," Byrge writes. "Under the splendid modulation of co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, 'Sunshine' careens along with a perfect combustion of character and comedy."
The movie made the grade earlier this year with the most esoteric critics. "It was this year's audience hit at the Sundance Film Festival, that arbiter of indie-film coolness," Burr writes.
What more could you want? What really matters in life, especially at this time of year, is seeing a cool movie, laughing a lot, scarfing down popcorn and forgetting about all that shopping.
"Little Miss Sunshine" is playing at Market Square East, and runs one hour and 41 minutes. Its rated R for language, some sex and drug content.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here