• James Rutherford

'Little Miss Sunshine': A Highly Winsome Comedy-Drama About a Momentous Family Road Trip


Movie poster for the film Little Miss Sunshine starring Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette and Steve Carell

"Little Miss Sunshine" (2006) is a highly winsome comedy-drama that follows the eclectic Hoover family as they travel from New Mexico to California, in order for young Olive (Abigail Breslin) to fulfill her greatest wish: to appear in the annual "Little Miss Sunshine" beauty pageant.


Traveling in an aged yellow Volkswagen bus, Olive is accompanied by her parents Richard (Greg Kinnear) and Sheryl (Toni Collette) as well as her morose half-brother Dwayne (Paul Dano), her despondent gay uncle Frank (Steve Carell) and her highly cantankerous grandfather Edwin (Alan Arkin)—recently released from his retirement home for flagrantly snorting heroin. As the storyline progresses, simmering tensions and animosities quickly bubble to the surface, providing darkly comic touches to this unique tale of angst and entanglement.


Directed by video music directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, "Little Miss Sunshine" is a fresh take on familial dysfunction that defies convention thanks in large part to Arndt's wonderfully developed characterizations. Arkin is particularly memorable as the boorish Edwin, who prepares Olive for her performance in the most indelible of manners. A milestone product of the aughts-era indie film movement, it remains a delightful viewing experience primed for rediscovery.

 

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