Greg Kinnear plays an obnoxious and insensitive father, Alan Arkin plays a horny, heroin-sniffing grandfather, Steve Carell plays a suicidal gay intellectual and Toni Collete plays... well, a mother... in "Little Miss Sunshine," a hilarious and involving drama-comedy that will easily have you rolling in your seat laughing.
"Little Miss Sunshine" is not your typical comedy. A quirky drama with lots of laughs, it follows in the trend of such films as "The Squid and the Whale" and "Thumbsucker," a part of a genre that relies on those sophisticated enough to understand and enjoy the humor. If you often sit in theaters for smaller films and find that everyone in it is laughing but you, that probably means you won't like "Little Miss Sunshine." But if you even have a ounce of intellectual capability to you, you will thoroughly enjoy this film.
Every actor delivers terrific performances. Kinnear, who excels at playing happy, excited people (and often people who are suffering at the same time), takes it to the next level with the bubbling yet unintentionally cruel character he has been selected to play. Collete is pretty much wasted in the least interesting role of the movie, but she gives it her all. Arkin is terrific as a swearing grandfather, and lesser known Paul Dano (who you may recognize) is also quite good, though not great. Abigail Breslin, who is questionably the star of the movie, holds her own against an all-adult cast.
Carell also turns in a defining performance as a character who is less funny than his standard routines yet much more likeable and real.
So what is it about? This dysfunctional family sets out on the road in a VW van to get their 7-year old to a beauty pageant, even though the dad is trying to land a book deal and they barely have any money to drive the 1,000 miles to California. When the clutch goes out on the van, they must literally push the vehicle across the country, and other events stand in their way as well. Of course, everything leads up to the big climax, and... well, you don't want to miss it.
"Little Miss Sunshine" is a movie that actually gets funnier with each passing minute, and by the end of the film you will nearly be dying in your seat. As already mentioned, the climax is hilarious, and there are several memorable scenes leading up to it. Highly recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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