Little Miss Sunshine
Written By Nobuhiro Hosoki
Some of the loudest buzz surrounding at 2006 Sundance Film Festival involved "Little Miss Sunshine." In the midst of a frantic distributor bidding war of distributor, the film was sold to Fox Searchlight for what is believed to be more than 10 million dollars.
The film offers a glorious glimpse into the lives of, the dysfunctional Hoover family, beginning with Olive (Abigail Breslin), the perky seven- year-old daughter Olive who has a prepubescent fixation on a beauty-queen crown. She receives a delightful phone call that she is being advanced to the title due to the diet-pill controversy of the original qualifier. To fulfill her wildest dream, the family decides to take a journey from their home in Albuquerque, New Mexico so she can get a shot at the tiara in a kiddie beauty pageant in Redondo Beach, California. But since their financial condition is shaky, they cannot afford to fly, so Olive's father, Richard (Greg Kinnear), an ambitious but very fragile motivational speaker, suggests they make the trek in a yellow Volkswagen bus.
They are accompanied by a new family member, Uncle Frank (Steve Carell), a self-proclaimed Proust scholar who is recovering from a botched suicide attempt, brought in to the household by his sister, Sheryl (Toni Collette), Olive's mom, who can barely disguise her skepticism toward Richard's life plan. Under strict orders, Frank cannot be left alone, so Sheryl forces her son Dwayne (Paul Dano) to share the bed with him. This teenage son alsocomes with his own set of oddities: he is a Nietzsche worshipper maintaining a vow of silence until he's old enough to become a fighter pilot, so he communicates only with terse notes. The last oddball is the profane grandpa (Alan Arkin) who is fond of snorting white powder and gazingat porno.
Right from beginning, this is a recipe for disaster. Soon the familiy's interstate trip is beset by countless setbacks. Each stops fixing on his or her own problems, and slowly draw closer together. It's the humanity and heartfelt moments that transcend things, turning them into a into a broader audience.
Instead of letting those characters sink into delusion, directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris(a husband-and-wife team) make the characters truly human with just the right amount of idiosyncrasy, adding a layer of emotional uplift. This ensemble cast of versatile actors is astonishingly good and all beautifully in sync. Particularly Steve Carell, who stands out among them, displaying a richly humorous and darker presence. After all, family ismore than enough to carry through the hardship we face!
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Written by Michael Arndt
Director of photography: Tim Suhrstedt
Edited by Pamela Martin
Music by Mychael Danna
Production designer:Kalina Ivanov
Produced by Marc Turtletaub
David T. Friendly, Peter Saraf, Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa
Released by Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Running time: 101 minutes.
Cast: Greg Kinnear (Richard)
Toni Collette (Sheryl),
Steve Carell (Frank)
Paul Dano (Dwayne)
Abigail Breslin (Olive),
and Alan Arkin (Grandpa).