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Movie Review: Little Miss Sunshine

by Dan Gunderson

Once a week, I review a movie that I had previously not viewed. It could be a new one or an old one. It does not matter. What does matter is that you read and enjoy this simple blog post from a movie geek.

Last week’s movie of choice was Little Miss Sunshine. The movie, which stars Steve Carell, is an indie flick that ended up being a box office success. How big of one do you ask? The movie cost about eight million dollars to make and grossed over 100 million dollars worldwide.

The title of the movie relates to a beauty pageant that Olive Hoover (Abigail Breslin) is picked to appear in. Her family is a very dysfunctional one with her father Richard (Greg Kinnear) trying to sell his self-help idea as a book and her brother Dwayne (Paul Dano) is taking a vow of silence.

Her grandfather Edwin Hoover (Alan Arkin) is teaching her the dance routine she is to use at pageants, which is a bit more, um, racy than a 7-year-old should be performing. The mother, Sheryl (Toni Collette) is trying to hold everything together while keeping an eye on her brother Frank (Carell) who has just attempted suicide.

The family is all packing up and heading to California for this pageant in a small Volkswagen van. Not one of them wants to go, outside of Olive, and their attitudes reflect this as the trip begins.

You would say this sounds like your typical “dysfunctional family takes a trip, hilarity ensues” type of movie but it is much deeper than that. The message this movie conveys is the only consistent thing in life is family.

The way the members of this family realize that is what keeps you so engaged throughout the movie. It is a dark comedy, with language being the key reason behind the R-rating but it is still worth a watch due to the overall theme.

Carell is the most recognizable actor in the movie but he becomes just another character as the story moves along. You fall in love with the grandfather by the end of the movie, despite his major flaws.

I always looked at Little Miss Sunshine as one of those movies that looked too deep for me to sit down for an hour and try to figure out what was going on. I am glad I finally came around to sit down for that hour to watch this film. I suggest you should as well.