Little Miss Sunshine (2006) dir. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Starring: Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Abigail Breslin, Alan Arkin
“Little Miss Sunshine” that delightful, comedy/road picture was a hit in all stages of its life - starting off as a Sundance hit, then a mild box office success, multiple year-end awards/nominations and now a successful DVD release. It arrives on Blu-Ray for the first time, an ideal title for the crisp picture and sound of the new medium.
Like "Slumdog Millionaire “Little Miss Sunshine” brightened the cinema world through the often downtrodden seriousness of usual Oscar-fare. It still serves as an antedote to Oscar’s self-loathing. LMS is a film to lift one’s spirits - a little piece of joy to get you through your day.
Based in part on the writer’s own personal experiences, a dysfunctional family travels the country so their precocious 7 year old can compete in a children’s beauty pageant. Each member of the family holds his or her own in terms of laughs. It’s a true ensemble, with neither one stealing anyone’s thunder. Greg Kinnear plays Richard, the ultra-competitive-motivational-speaker wannabe Dad, Steve Carell is a depressed suicide-attempting gay intellectual scholar Uncle. Alan Arkin is an “I don’t care because I’m old”, porn-loving, heroin-snorting grandfather. Paul Dano is the disaffected Nietzsche-reading teenager who has taken an oath of silence. Abigail Breslin is the Jonathan-Lipnicky-cute- but-not-gorgeous naïve daughter and Toni Collette is the rock, the mother who has to take up smoking to survive the chaos in the family.
It was the first feature film from Jonathan Dayton/Valerie Faris. Their “Bottle Rocket,” from which, hopefully, they can build a fruitful feature film career. (Wes Anderson, time to step back up to the plate). The film follows a well-trodden formula of road movies, but told with such genuine sincerity it trumps any familiarity. There are half a dozen brilliant scenes and moments of genuine hilarity. Dayton and Faris, whom we expect to ‘know their music’ based on their extensive music video work, adds pitch perfect songs to the soundtrack (a good way of introducing Sufjan Stevens to the mainstream).
Each actor in the impressive cast supports the film in equal measure. As such “Little Miss Sunshine” remains one of the great ensemble films in recent years.
“Little Miss Sunshine” is available on Blu-Ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment