Laughs abound as we join the Hoover family on their hilarious and outrageous family road-trip to get young Olive Hoover (Abigail Breslin), an aspiring pageant contestant from their home in Albuquerque New Mexico, to the “Little Miss Sunshine” pageant being held at the Embassy Suites in Redondo Beach California
Little Miss Sunshine (2006) is well developed and departs from the comedic slapstick antics often found in such road trip movies like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987) and National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), and replaces it with thought provoking and insightful family dysfunction.
In the opening scenes we are introduced to the Hoover Family. There is Olive’s father Richard (Greg Kinnear), an unknown motivational speaker. He is man obsessed with winning, and the publication of his “9 steps” to success, having never experienced either winning or success himself. And Sheryl (Toni Collette), Olive’s mother. She is a devoted mom who values family over all else. Sheryl is stressed beyond measure being the glue that holds everyone and everything in the family together.
Next we meet uncle Frank (Steve Carrell), who is the nations foremost, yet unpublished Proust scholar. He being released from a short stay in the hospital due to a failed suicide attempt, into the loving care of his sister Sheryl. Then we meet Dwayne (Paul Dano). He is Olive’s silent older bother and is the antithesis of teen angst. Dwayne is intent on getting away from his family via the Air Force on his quest to fly jets. And finally we are introduced to the patriarch of the family. Richard’s dad, Olive’s beloved Grandpa (Alan Arkin), has a penchant for illegal narcotics and porn. Oh, lets not forget that he happens to spend numerous hours devoted as Olive’s
pageant coach, and dance routine choreographer.
The dysfunction that permeates this family is on full display during a dinner of takeout chicken. The interaction of the characters during dinner provides the audience with a quick glimpse of the family dynamics and and the personality of each member of the Hoover household.
During a lull in the dysfunctional family dinner, Sheryl returns a call to her sister who left on the answering machine informing the her that Olive had been invited to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in California. It is after this phone call we begin to see the Hoovers begin to pull together for one of their own, but not without some compromises and whole lot of self-centeredness. With their personal desires and reservations set aside, everyone agrees to embark on a road-trip to aid Olive fulfill her immediate wish of competing in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant.
There are plenty of shenanigans and chaos to go around during the ensuing road-trip, ranging from geriatric tirades regarding sexual relations and heroin use, sarcasm riddled banter between family members, to the theft of a dead body. Lets not leave out the pornography loving state trooper. Even with the aforementioned insanity there are moments of warmth and caring exhibited by each family member sprinkled throughout the movie. The love that the Hoover family has for Olive culminates in a show of family support and unity. The display of coming together as a family is one that would make any heroin loving grandfather proud.
The ensemble cast of this movie is the biggest contributing factor that makes this film come together cohesively. In an online review the renowned film critic Roger Ebert expresses his observations on the award winning cast members.
“You just won’t see a better acted, and better cast, movie than
“Little Miss Sunshine.” These actors (and their directors, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris) grasp how unspoken reactions can be funnier than dialogue or punchlines, and how pain can be the source of the most satisfying comedy.
All the actors play the emotions straight and true. Dano, his dead black eyes obscured by thick bangs and set into a pale face that seems to be imploding with teen alienation and disgust, just has to tilt his head almost imperceptibly to bring down the house. Kinnear, a fine comic actor, gets the opportunity to let whole scenes play out wordlessly across his face — having conversations in his head while driving, or trying to figure out an appropriate response to the talent portion of the Little Miss Sunshine contest.
Carell is a miracle in pink-and-blue-striped socks. He creates a character whose pain surrounds him like a hard plastic bubble. And the less he seems to do, the funnier he gets. He makes the name “Nietzsche” (which he pronounces crisply as “Neet-chah”) inexplicably hilarious. And how to describe the way Uncle Frank runs? It’s an intellectual run — performed as if the act of running had been studied, broken down into its component parts, and then reassembled – all analysis, no grace. It’s almost inhumanly human, and pricelessly funny. But it’s not just a sped-up silly walk, it’s an authentic expression of character.”(Ebbert, Roger)
Ruthe Stein of the San Francisco Chronical has these seniments about the the effectiveness of the performances by cast members.
“The cast is so perfect that it’s impossible to imagine anyone else in the roles. Arkin’s spontaneity gives the impression that he’s improvising. Kinnear embodies the hyped-up energy of a gambler sure his next card will beat the house. He and Collette effectively use body language to convey the frustrations of a couple trying to hold it together for the kids. The two have almost no physical contact. A scene where they verbally lash out at each other is particularly well acted.
Even in such heady company, Carell, whose success in “The 40 Year Old Virgin” established him as more than just a television face, comes close to making this his movie. His well-honed comic instincts are evident in the way Frank intently follows the family’s disjointed conversations with his eyes – as if watching a tennis match.”(Stein, Ruthe)
Little Miss Sunshine garnered many awards and nominations during the awards season of 2007. Arkin (Edward Scissorhands,1990), was presented the Academy Awards coveted Oscar for “Best performance by an actor in a supporting role” for his work as Grandpa. Bresslin (Zombieland,2009), was graced with an Oscar nomination for “Best performance by an actress in a supporting role” for her performance as Olive. The film also earned first time writer Michael Ardnt ( Toy Story3) an Oscar Award for “Best Original Screenplay’. The Screen Actors Guild recognized the entire ensemble cast by awarding them SAG award for “Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture”. The screenplay was directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris; This husband and wife team have a substantial body of work compiled together as a directorial duo in the music video industry. Little Miss Sunshine(2006), was their first feature film. Their most recent credit as film directors is a comedy film titled Ruby Sparks (2012). Dayton and Faris directed the cast perfectly. The directors utilize the acting capabilities of each cast member to draw the audience into the screen, instead of relying on zany antics and special effects to pull us into the story. Their technique is subtle yet very effective.
This film is not just about getting from point “A” to point ”B” and the pothole that are in between. It is about personal disillusionment and the ripple effects that come with awakening from those illusions. It is a reflection of the family dynamics and relationships that populate many American households today. Little Miss Sunshine is not your typical family road-trip film, so
I would suggest leaving the “little sunshines” at home for this one.
Ebert,Roger. “Little Miss Sunshine.” Rev. of Little Miss Sunshine, dir(s). Jonathan Dayton , Valerie Faris. RogerEbert.Com. Roger Ebert. 3rd August2006.Web.23rd October 2013. Stein, Ruthe. “Everybody in the van — and don’t forget to bring your emotional baggage.” Rev. of Little Miss Sunshine, dir(s). Jonathan Dayton , Valerie Faris. SFGate.com. San Francisco Chronicle. 4th August2006.Web.23rd October2013.
Cite this Little miss sunshine
Little miss sunshine. (2016, Oct 26). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/little-miss-sunshine/