Little Miss Sunshine ****
It's Augest now, and since half of the year is good and done, it's time to start to wonder about the final top ten list in December. I must say, that there are a few films that I know will be on that list, and "Little Miss Sunshine" is certainly one of them. It's actually one of the best films I've seen in a long time. It has it all-characters that you end up loving at the end, tradgey, and it's also gut-bustingly hilarious. It's a quirky comedy, and fans of "Sideways," "Thank You for Smoking," and "Me and You and Everyone We Know," can appriciate the style and tone of this. Even looking at the poster, with the solid bright colors, you can predict what your in for.
"Little Miss Sunshine" is the story of the Hoover family, a family on the verage of a nervous breakdown. They have had a big string of bad luck. There's the father, Richard, who is a failed motivational speaker, trying to get a book deal signed for his "9 Steps to Success" program. There's the mother, Cheryl, who is in the middle of the financial woes that the family is going through. Richard's father lives with them, a stuffy old man who likes to snort cocaine in his spare time. Now, the family is being visited by Cheryl's brother Frank, a gay Proust scholar who needs to be watched after trying to kill himself. And then there are the two children, Dwayne and Olive. Dwayne wants to fly jet planes, and has taken a vow of silence until he achieves his goal. And Olive has a goal of her own. . . she wants to be a beauty pagant winner. And her dreams might be coming true, as she was the runner up in the regional Little Miss Sunshine contest. However, the girl with the crown was disqualified after a diet pill incident, and Olive has a chance to be crowned the winer. Richard wants his daughter to be successful, after all the entire basis of his career revolves around success, so the rest of the clan unwillingly gets into the families yellow VW bus, and they take a road trip from New Mexico to California, so Olive can compete in the contest. And it's a rocky road from the get-go, and the road ends, finally, up at the Little Miss Sunshine pagaent itself, which introduces them all to some very strange people.
And like any road trip movie, the family gets involved in a whole bunch of wacky incidents. But it's not silly, like the "Vacation", or convential, like Robin Williams last effort "RV." The preformances are all award worthy, and I mean all of them. Greg Kinnear, Toni Collete, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, and Steve Carrell, and little Abagail Breslin all deserve to be recognized at the end of the year for their work here. The cinematography is bright and happy. The music is strange and catchy. I loved every tune I heard. It's quirky, yes, and the type of film this is is an acquired taste. You really have to know what type of film your going to watch when you walk into this one, but those who like this style of humor can't find anything better. After seeing so many convential Hollywood comedies of late, like "My Super Ex-Girlfriend," and "You, Me and Dupree," is such a wonder to see something with a shred of originality. Sure, the road trip aspect can seem a bit cliche, and it might turn people off, but the story is presented with such an original tone, that it overused idea is just the backdrop for something bigger and better.
"Little Miss Sunshine" may have shreds of satire, but it's really about the togetherness of family, no matter what the circumstances, for better or worse. And not just that, but it even jusitifies why families, and people in general, have to suffer. This family may suffer, and be strange and crazy, but its these quirks that makes them who they are. They could have stopped many times along the way, and give up, and yet they constantly persisted. They never gave up. The Hoover family may not be winners, but they certainly aren't losers. More like something in between. In the end, I was truly upset that it was over. It's one of those films that you can let go on for hours and hours, wanting to know what happens to these characters next. You fall in love with every single one of them, and you wished that they would live up your block so you can see them all the time. It's the type of film that Hollywood needs to make more of, and I can see this being a sleeper hit over the next few months, expanding from city to city, making more and more bucks. This is close to the top of one of the year's best. I can't stress the importance of seeing it, and soon.