Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

DailyView: Day 317, Movie 451

“She’s a Super Freak… Super Freak… she’s super freaky…”

What an unexpectedly wonderous experience watching Little Miss Sunshine, filled with members of the Hoover family, odd and offbeat, down and defeated, yet filled with life. I had heard of this movie before, but I had no idea what a gem it was and how much I would enjoy spending almost two hours with these damaged and dynamite characters.

IMDB hits the synapsis well: In Albuquerque, Sheryl Hoover (Toni Collette) brings her suicidal brother Frank (Steve Carrell) to the breast of her dysfunctional and emotionally bankrupted family. Frank is homosexual, an expert in Proust. He tried to commit suicide when he was rejected by his boyfriend and his great competitor became renowned and recognized as number one in the field of Proust. Sheryl’s husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) is unsuccessfully trying to sell his self-help and self-improvement technique using nine steps to reach success, but he is actually a complete loser. Her son Dwayne (Paul Dano) has taken a vow of silence as a follower of Nietzsche and aims to be a jet pilot. Dwayne’s grandfather Edwin (Alan Arkin) was sent away from the institution for elders, Sunset Manor, and is addicted in heroin. When her seven-year-old daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin) has a chance to dispute the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in Redondo Beach, California, the whole family travels together in their old Volkswagen Type 2 (Kombi) in a funny journey of hope of winning the talent contest and to make a dream come true.

This film started out and I wondered exactly which of these characters were worth rooting for. Olive was a sweet child with large ambitions, Dwayne was in his own little world, Frank moped and was seemingly on the edge, Sheryl seemed to be in full denial, and Richard was as obnoxious of a father as you were ever going to find.

That left us with Edwin, the dirty grandpa who liked to look at porn magazines and said whatever came into his head.

Then, without warning, the characters took a turn and every one of them became something new, something unexpected and they became a family, dysfunctional, sure, but a family nonetheless.

There were a few moments that I had my jaw on the ground. I could not believe that the film went in a couple of different directions, but the dedication and determination to get Olive to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant was a clarion call to the entire group to overcome their individual issues and focus in on a singular goal.

By the way, there is an obvious slap at these beauty pageants designed for the little girls. I found the few minutes that they spent in the third act at this pageant to be very disgusting, taking these little children and dressing them up like they were adults in swimsuits and gowns.

This movie is heart warming, emotional and very funny. It is a magnificent film with a bunch of amazing performances from a stellar cast.

“That girl’s alright with me…Hey Hey Hey Hey…”

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