Little Miss Sunshine
Release year: 2006
Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Screenwriter: Michael Arndt
Starring: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Abigail Breslin, Alan Arkin, Paul Dano
Ratings: 2 Oscars: Best Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin), Best Original Screenplay. 2 Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actress (Abigail Breslin), Best Movie. 1 Empire Awards: Best Comedy.
Little Olive (Abigail Breslin) dreams of participating in the beauty contest Little Miss Sunshine and practise every day with her grandad (Alan Arkin) who lives with them. When Olive by chance gets into the state contest in California, her mom (Toni Collette) and dad (Greg Kinnear) decides to take her there in their old VW bus. With them goes grandad, their son Dwayne (Paul Dano) who has taken a wow of silence and uncle Frank (Steve Carell) who can not be left alone since he just tried to kill himself.
This may not sound like it, but it is a feel good movie, bound to make anyone with a heart smile. The acting is absolutely sublime, with everyone delivering some of their best performances, though noone manages to outshine Breslin (Zombieland 2009) who definitely brings sunshine to the movie.
Carell (Crazy Stupid Love, 2011) is superb as the gay uncle whose life has fallen apart bit by bit until it broke him. Stripped of his dignity, he bonds with the silent and bitter teenager Dwayne who reads Nietzche. Dano (12 Years a Slave, 2013) nails the teenager, managing to let us glimpse the deeper person hidden behind Cthe sullen face and silence. Collette (The Sixth Sense, 1999) is as always amazingly warm and real as the mother who tries to hold everything together as it falls apart around her, while unable to hold back bitter comments for her husband, eho she feels does not live up to his responsibilities. Kinnear (As Good As It Gets, 1997) meanwhile manage to make the husband exactly so annoying that we understand his family’s response to him, while making him likeable enoguh for you to feel sorry for him when things go wrong. Arkin (Argo, 2012) got a deserved Oscar for his supporting role as the grumpy grandad addicted to heroin and a tendency to say things as they are without sugarcoating it. But as mentioned, the star is Breslin, delivering a performance she shouldn’t be able to at her young age, all the while she completely steals your heart as the young girl who has a dream and who don’t even think twice about going for it. As they emerge on the trip of a lifetime in their bright yellow bus, not much goes the right way, the var falls more and more apart and so does their lifes. But instead of falling apart, it turns out that the disastrous trip might just be what will bring them together as a family.
This is a movie about family, about being real and being true to yourself, about daring to follow your dreams and about never giving up, no matter what life throws at you. If you haven’t seen it yet, then do yourself a favour and see this ray of life giving sunshine.
During the scene in the bus with Grandpa’s (Alan Arkin) profanity laced speech to Dwayne (Paul Dano), the production crew made sure that Abigail Breslin was really listening to music like her character to keep her from hearing it.
Picture copyright: SF Films