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Little Miss Sunshine

Review Written by: Michael Courtney
Film: A+
Video/Audio/Extras: A/A-/B

Directed by: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Written by: Michael Arndt
Produced by: Albert Berger, David Friendly, Peter Saraf, Mark Turtletaub and Ron Yerxa
Starring: Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Alan Arkin, Steve Carell, Paul Dano
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it!

This summer, a lot of people were obviously fed up with seeing the same old trickle everyone has seen a million times over. People chose to go see a charming, wholesome little independent piece of delight called Little Miss Sunshine. In the summer of 2006, this did very good considering it had a budget of about eight million dollars and made about eighty five million worldwide. I'm sure word of mouth got around about this film and I don't wonder why.

Little Miss Sunshine is about a family of engaging and fascinating characters. First, a young beauty queen aspirant, Olive, performed by an exciting young actress Abigail Breslin and a very devoted and disciplined son Dwayne who's taken a vow of silence until he reaches his goal of being in the Air Force, played by a very talented up-and-comer Paul Dano. Then, there's a totally stressed out mother Sheryl, who is just trying to keep her family together, played fantastically by Toni Collette and an upbeat, but downtrodden father Richard played by the magnificent Greg Kinnear. Finally, there's a heroin snorting, foul-mouthed grandfather played by Hollywood veteran Alan Arkin and finally the suicidal, homosexual, pre-eminent Proust scholar of the United States, Frank, played beautifully by Steve Carell. After Frank attempts to commit suicide because a man he fell in love with fell in love with another, he is sent to live with his sister Sheryl and her dysfunctional family. Then, Olive receives a call saying that she has qualified to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant, which is held in California, since the family lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, they must find a way to get there, so after an argument, they decide to take the whole family on their old rusted VW bus. On their miserable and Murphy's Law-like trip to California, they face many hardships, including the VW facing clutch, horn and door issues, a bump into with Frank's would-be lover and an encounter with a creepy cop.

Why I think Little Miss Sunshine. works so well and is so unique and special, is simply because the actors believe in the dialogue so much and knew that they were making a truly special film. Obviously, also, the screenplay and the originality and quick, witty and pure dialogue really works. The final reason is this is a truly elite group of actors and I think should all be noticed, I think however the film itself couldn't have worked without Toni Collette, who played the stressed out and complex mother who was just fascinating from beginning to end and Steve Carell, one of the nation's biggest stars and rightfully so, just delivers his lines so subtly and with impeccable timing that just makes his character so captivating.

If I can do one piece of good with this review is that it is rated 'R', it makes me sick, the grandpa says the "f-word" a few times and that is about it. Plus, in one scene he asks for a porno, if your child knows what a porno is, he or she can watch this movie, if he or she doesn't then he won't understand that one part, I think this is a family film, and don't dismiss this film because it is rated 'R'. Your entire family will enjoy this.

I wish this DVD would have a few more extras, but the extras on it are satisfying, including director's commentary from the two directors of Little Miss Sunshine, which was quite entertaining. It also features four alternate endings, (one of which I think is better than the real ending of the film). Little Miss Sunshine has already become a favorite of mine. It is extremely watchable many times and will be a cherished addition to your DVD shelf.

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