Little Miss Sunshine(2006)
This indie classic had a heart of gold and a skin more scaly and dysfunctional than your own brood. Just about every character in this tale about a wannabe pageant princess has a prominent flaw that only makes them more endearing, particularly Alan Arkin as the heroin-snorting granddad and Toni Collette as the over-worked mother. Bursting with slapstick and a dark, subversive humour, it was part messed-up road trip, part satire of what it means to be a loser in a winner's world.
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BY Flicks Writer
Little Miss Sunshine’s a road-trip movie with all of the above heading to the Little Miss beauty pageant in California, in which Olive is competing. It’s very much a crowd-pleaser and cockle-warmer, with each beautifully rounded character reaching resolution. But thankfully, for all the pathos and frustration of the Hoovers Little Miss never forgets it’s a comedy. It’s also very smart. It satirizes today’s obsession with success & the repulsive culture of appearance inherent in a beauty pageant without cynicism, and fights back with a snarl of rebellion and a bit of the old ‘fuck you’.
Great performances - two are remarkable. Abigail Breslin, as the innocent and optimistic Olive, is jubilant, very sweet and always a joy to watch – the best performance from a young’un in my poor memory. And Alan Arkin’s Granddad is hilarious and impossible not to like for his rock n’ roll, finger to the man attitude at 70 something years’ old. His one bit of advice for grandson Dwayne: ‘Fuck as many chicks as you possibly can’.
Remarkably, it’s the feature debut from music video directors Faris & Dayton. From a clever character-focused script, they handle the film’s daring swings in mood and extreme characters seamlessly and without caricaturing. ‘Tis one of the funniest and best films of the year people. Also features a memorable soundtrack, written for the film by Devotchka.
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Little Miss Sunshine
Toni Collette is perfect as the taut, keeping-it-together mom. Her wry, understated performance, broken by just a few moments of frenzy (such as the twitchy desperation with which she eats an ice-block!) is one of her finest performances. The rest of the cast is equally... More believable, with my particular kudos going to Dwayne. The scene where he breaks down in the van had me crying and thinking 'Whoa, he's good!' at the same time... we'd better be seeing more of him, because that young man can ACT!
Little Miss Sunshine drove a careful line between black comedy, feelgood and indie; and it never faltered once. It did what even The Royal Tenenbaums failed to do; created truly quirky characters for whom one could truly feel. I can't recommend this highly enough, for sheer enjoyability.Hide
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