Little Miss Sunshine

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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Flicks Review

The Hoovers are the epitome of dysfunctional. Dad Richard (Kinnear) is a failed motivational speaker; mum Sheryl (Collette) tries to mediate with lines like ‘I’m pro-truth’; son Dwayne (Dano) is mute by choice and scribbles sentiments such as ‘I hate everybody’ on a notepad; young daughter Olive is obsessed with beauty pageants; Granddad (Arkin) is a heroin addict; and Sheryl’s brother Frank (Carrel) is a scholar who just failed to kill himself.

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.


The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 19 ratings, 17 reviews
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One of those movies easily forgotten.
See... can't remember much at all!
It did leave me wondering about the credibility of Academy Awards.
Gets one star for their rental van being VW yellow (as I remember it).


I heard alot of good reviews on this one and I'm pretty sure many people will disagree with me on this one but I thought this movie was absolutely boring. Now before everyone thinks I'm just an action junkie I have seen my fair share of emotional movies. I even shreaded a tear in forest gump. This movie was plain uninteresting. The jokes looked like the actors were making the jokes on the spot. The only positive about the film was the acting. I thought Abigail Breslin(Olive) was marvellous.... More Even though the acting was great it didn't stop this movie from being a dud. Only watch if you are being tortured and have the choice to die or watch this film.Hide


I've rarely enjoyed a movie this much. Coming out of Little Miss Sunshine, I had the same high as I did post-Garden State; only I suspect LMS will stand up better to repeat viewings. In Australian lingo, it's spot on.

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


This is a great movie. Im from A M E R I C A!! So I saw this movie before you did probably. HaHa. Poor People!!


Im sorry for my recent comment. I was ever so rude. Have fun in N E W Z E A L A N D


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The Press Reviews

91% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • BBC

    Occasionally the comic incidents feel a little jarring and clunky, such as Richard's attempt to stash a dead body which stops just short of Weekend At Bernie's. Generally though, the story unfolds with a winning blend of sophistication and silliness. Dayton and Faris boldly satirise traditional American values without the easy cynicism - hilariously encapsulated by Olive's precocious posturing at the beauty contest... Full Review

  • Sharp, very funny, surprisingly moving and rejoicing in great work from the entire cast, this sparkling little gem takes the family road movie to unhoped-for heights of hilarity and humanity... Full Review

  • A screwball family takes to the road and wondrously finds itself in this crowd-pleaser at Sundance. A brainy blend of farce and heart, this is one of those movies that veteran moviegoers complain they don't make anymore. Most winningly, "Little Miss Sunshine" should radiate warm appreciation across age and class lines... Full Review

  • As ambitious, honest and subversive as any American movie since "Election"... Full Review

  • Tucked in between all the hurt and the jokes, the character development and the across-the-board terrific performances is a surprisingly sharp look at contemporary America... Full Review

  • Family road trip comedy that shoots down the American culture of the winner and offers sweet redemption for losers. Distinguished by a flawless cast, a gentle spirit of rebellion and a smart script... Full Review