Little Miss Sunshine

DVD Reviews | Dec 9th, 2006

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Starring Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Alan Arkin, Steve Carell, Abigail Breslin, Paul Dano
Written By: Michael Arndt
Directed By: Valerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton
Studio: Fox Searchlight
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Little Miss Sunshine was one of the indie hits of the summer, being in the top 12 for a 10 weeks straight (or something like that). I wanted to check out the movie once I saw the trailer on the web. It had a great cast, it seemed quirky and was getting rave reviews. Plus since the movie has been released, I fell in love with the band DeVotchka, who did most of the music in the movie with composer Mychael Danna. Actually I can’t stop listening to the band, and it’s one reason why I wanted to see the movie. I couldn’t get a chance to see Little Miss Sunshine in theaters but finally got to see it on DVD. If you are looking for a subtle humored indie flick that might make you a little depressed, than this is the film for you.

The film is about a family who are quite dysfunctional, and embark on a road trip so their daughter can take part in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. As the movie starts up, you see each person in the family and figure out what they are all about, or wrong with them. Olive is the daughter picked for the pageant and all she wants to do is win the contest and prove everybody that she is pretty. Even though she is only 7 years old. Her father, Richard, is a motivational speaker on winning, but isn’t really a winner either. He’s also kind of a douche to his family but he doesn’t really mean to be. His wife, Sheryl, is the supporting mother type but concerned about money, and other things. The grandfather is a war veteran who’s had it with living and is also a heroin addict, but he’s the one that teaches Olive all her dance moves for the pageant. Olive’s older brother Dwayne is the rebel kid who paints, and reads philosophy..Oh yeah, he’s also not talking to anyone and hasn’t for 6 months. Then rounding out the family is Frank, the homosexual number one scholar in the country who just tried to commit suicide. Yeah quite the dysfunctional family indeed! But once the family hits the road, they slowly bond with each other and in a way, rebel against the “normal” people of America.

I didn’t know what kind of movie I was going to get with Little Miss Sunshine. I heard it was great and really funny so that’s what I was going in thinking. I don’t necessarily think it’s the most hilarious thing in the world but there is a few funny moments. But mostly this is an indie drama disguised as a comedy. The humor is subtle and the pacing is slow. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just not what I was expecting. I actually thought the movie was quite good, just a little depressing. It’s sad because everyone is so dysfunctional (which family isn’t these days) but I think I got upset because my Grandmother just passed away the day before. I guess a similar thing happens in the movie. The movie kind of makes you take a look at your life, and then you say to yourself, “eh life isn’t so bad after all.” At least, that’s how I look at it. It took awhile for the movie to get going but once they got into that ugly van or “bus,” that’s when the story got more interesting. Though I did enjoy the conversation of them trying to explain suicide to Olive at the dinner table. Alan Arkin stole every scene he was in, and certainly made that scene funny. Steve Carell was really good as the depressed, suicidal scholar Frank. It was sort of a different type of role for him. Everybody was great at their roles.

The finale of the movie made up for the slowness & depressing feel of the beginning. It made you happy because the whole family was rebelling against all these “normal” people, who in fact were more out of whack than the main characters. I thought this movie spoofed the kiddie pageants wonderfully. I don’t know how parents can dress up their daughters like 10 dollar prostitutes. You might ask yourself how I know what a 10 dollar prostitute looks like, well let’s just say she’s buried in the desert of Vegas..but that’s for another story. Anyway, When you look at those parents and little whore children in the pageants, you realize that the main characters aren’t so bad after all. And when you see the dance number of Olive, you’ll be sure to laugh because if you remember, grandpa is the one who taught her dance moves. I was certainly laughing during this part.

Since this is a screener copy of the movie, I didn’t get to check out all the extras for the movie. Since this movie is by Fox Searchlight, they like to put their extras on two sides of the disc. I’ll be honest, it’s really annoying to have it that way. I want all my extras to be in one area of the DVD and not have to make some sort of effort to flip over a disc. Well like I said, since it’s a screener copy, I could only watch one side. On that side of the DVD, there was audio commentary, and a music video from DeVotchka. That music video is for the song “Til The End of Time” and it’s the song you hear at the end credits. DeVotchka recorded that song specifically for the movie and I love that song! Other than that, who knows what else is on the DVD.

Little Miss Sunshine is a sad and funny indie drama that some people will love. And the other half will probably won’t like it. I guess the only way to figure out if you’ll like the movie is to see it for yourself. I liked the movie a lot, but thought it would be funnier. I definitely want to see it again since I know now what to expect from it. I might even appreciate it more as well.

Audio Commentary with Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and Writer Michael Arndt
4 Alternate Endings with optional commentary by directors Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
“Till the End of Time” performed by DeVotchka from the soundtrack

ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1
SPANISH: Dolby Digital Surround

Widescreen 2.35:1 Color
Standard 1.33:1 Color

English, Spanish, French

Favorite Scenes: The dinner scene, all the stuff in the van including Grandpa’s advice to Dwayne, the cop scene, escaping the hospital, and the beauty pageant.
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 101 minutes
Extras Rating:
Overall Rating: