Plot- A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus – Little Miss Sunshine.
Released – 2006
The number if indie-comedies with dysfunctional families is off the charts, but there are very few I’ve seen that was as funny and heartwarming as Little Miss Sunshine and even fewer where you’ll be laughing one minute and tearing up the next because of the strong bond you form with each of the characters.
The married co-directors start off with a wonderfully designed opening sequence that perfectly illustrates each of the principal characters, providing just enough of a glimpse into each of their personalities and just how messed up but loveable this family is.
Starting off with a Mom (Collette) and Dad (Kinnear) not able to come up with a way to tell their young daughter (Breslin) about her uncle’s (Carell) mental breakdown and subsequent suicide attempt, as he stares on melancholy, next up you have the troubled son (Dano), who’s taken a vow of silence in honour of Nietzsche while he prepares to join the Air Force, finishing up with the foul-mouthed grandpa (Arkin) complaining about always being given chicken. Every viewer can find something to relate to in one or all members of the family, helping to produce compassion for the views the character holds and seeing that even though they bicker, they clearly all care for each other.
The decision to cast Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette as the patriarchs was a masterstroke, Collette especially proves again how under-appreciated she is as an actor and even though the movie is an ensemble through and through, these two characters are what drives the plot along while also grounding it. Dano is also great as a troubled teen, communicating mostly through knowing looks because of his vow of silence.
But it’s Breslin who is the heart of the film and quite phenomenal as Olive, the happiest and body-positive girl alive. Even the fact she has won her regional beauty pageant by default, she’s still on cloud nine and due to not wanting to break her heart, compiles the family to make the road trip. Her emotional reactions are perfect and it’s no wonder that she has gone on to have such a successful career so far.
Little Miss Sunshine not only remains fresh to this day but very few films that have come out since to even come close, it’s heartwarming and funny, beautifully written and directed. Topped off with excellent performances from everyone involved.