Little Miss Sunshine

Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Release Year:
Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Alan Arkin, Paul Darno, Abigail Breslin
Won 2 Oscars in 2007
Screening Date:
  • 11 Dec 2007
  • Categories:
    Comedy, Drama

    A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus.

    Film Notes

    This dark comedy follows a dysfunctional family crossing America on a battered VW camper van so that their seven year old can compete in the beauty pageant of the title. This is a quirky little film, almost impossible to characterise. Not quite drama, not out-and-out comedy, this charming and unusually understated film manages to squeeze more honesty and understanding into an hour and a half than you'll get from a whole course of therapy. The family unit comprises an old grandfather with a coke habit (Arkin), parents with marital problems (Kinnear and Collette), a suicidal gay uncle (Carell), a Nietzsche-obsessed teen who's taken a vow of silence (Darno) and Olive, a podgy seven-year old who wants to be a beauty queen (Breslin). The extremely talented cast make the dysfunction fresh and amusing. This ensemble acting at its most effective, but the real star is Abigail Breslin as Olive, a character so fully realised that you almost forget that she's seven. An uplifting, endearing and moving film. A treat.
    Ben Reynolds - Film 4 Review - 2006
    Despite tackling death and dysfunction, indie comedy drama, Little Miss Sunshine radiates warmth and charm. Greg Kinnear is wonderfully woebegone as the success-obsessed patriarch leading his family cross-country in order to enter daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin), into a junior beauty pageant. The combustible mix of characters fuel a laugh-a-minute road trip. It's an assured debut for the co-directors who benefit from a sharp and sensitive script. Occaionally the comic incidents feel a little jarring and clunky, but generally the story unfolds with a winning blend of sophistication and silliness. The directors boldly satirise traditional American values without easy cynicism. More importantly, as the Hoover clan gradually get to know one another, the journey becomes fully engaging and oddly poignant. It will definitely leave you with a feel-good glow.
    Stella Papamichael - BBC Movies Review - 2006


    What you thought about Little Miss Sunshine

    Film Responses

    Excellent Good Average Poor Very Poor
    23 (66%) 9 (26%) 1 (3%) 2 (6%) 0 (0%)
    Total Number of Responses: 35
    Film Score (0-5): 4.51

    Collated Response Comments

    The comic energy of this film and its sharp observation of character and situation appealed to many: 'an enjoyable romp', 'very funny', 'very amusing satire', 'entertainingly quirky', 'thoroughly enjoyable', 'absolutely hilarious', 'real laugh-out-loud stuff', 'fun - a real tonic'. Underneath this pervasive but penetrating sense of humour lay other matters. Some found new perspectives on American society, 'What a ghastly place the U.S. is'; 'And I thought America was screwed up when I saw Prairie Home Companion'; 'Such a clever take on American life'; 'Lots of sly digs at American society'; and 'A lovely acerbic take on American mores'. The portrayal of the dysfunctional family was the source of much comment. 'Hilarious observation of family relationships'; 'all the unhinged characters had their own inner logic'; 'All the characters are in every family'; 'I shall be more patient in future'; and 'Viva dysfunctionality. I don't know of any other film that's made me laugh and cry at the same time'. Within the wonderful dark and satirical humour some of you found a distinct message. 'The family came through crisis after crisis united'; 'The film proved what was important'; 'A great message'; 'Sad and poignant for all families'; 'Bit like a good cricket innings, painful at first but building up to a cracker'; and 'A truly great ending - anarchy rules. Did she win? If not ask for a recount'. Acting and direction were 'slick', 'effective', 'superb', 'well-paced', 'with some lovely cinematography as they were driving along', but the view of the film as 'an excellent festive choice', was not quite universal. One comment was that 'it was good fun, but the complex relationships could have been given more weight'. Another, on similar lines, was 'too much disintegration into farce'. Two disappointed members felt that it was 'just ordinary' and 'not my kind of film'.

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