Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

little miss sunshine

“Everyone, just… pretend to be normal.”

The Scoop: 2006 R, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valarie Faris and starring Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear and Alan Arkin

Tagline: Where’s Olive?

Summary Capsule: Little girl wants to participate in creepy misogynistic ritual- er, beauty pageant.


Lissa’s rating: I’m so glad I don’t have girls.

Lissa’s review: So, I was trying to think of what to review today, because to be honest, the few movies I’ve seen recently haven’t been very reviewable.  It’s easy to find something to say about an awesome movie, and great fun to find something to say about a horrible one.  But those so-so, forgettable movies… they’re a lot harder.  So I started trolling through the suggested reviews thread on the forum, and the title Little Miss Sunshine caught my eye.  We haven’t reviewed Little Miss Sunshine?  Well, that’s a crime that should be remedied right now.  (And let it never be said that we completely ignore that forum!)

Little Miss Sunshine is a little indie movie that made a big splash back in 2006.  It was hailed as one of the best comedies of the year and won two Oscars, for Best Writing in an Original Screenplay and for Best Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin).  It has some fairly big names in it, including Toni Collette and Steve Carrell.  It’s full of dark humor and witty writing, and an entertaining story.  In its way, it reminds me of The Full Monty as “the little movie that could.”

The premise is sort of hokey, in its way.  A little girl named Olive (the utterly charming Abigail Breslin) wants to compete in a beauty pageant.  She’s far from the beauty pageant type – she wears glasses, she’s not nearly made up enough, and you can actually see her when she turns sideways.  But come on – what girl didn’t dream of being Miss America (or whatever country you live in) some day?  I might be a feminist and think that beauty pageants are degrading, devaluing, and misogynistic, but you can bet I had my daydreams of wearing that tiara and carrying those roses.  Anyway¸ despite the fact that Olive lives in a messed up family, complete with heroin-snorting grandfather and suicidal uncle, they actually care about the kid and try to support her, and thus begins the family odyssey to the kiddie beauty pageant.

One thing I’ve learned in my tenure as a Mutant Reviewer is that beauty pageant movies can be surprisingly good.  (Take Drop Dead Gorgeous, for example.)  Another thing I’ve learned is that movies that are ostensibly about one thing are often about something entirely different.  Yes, this family is trying to get to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty contest, but the movie isn’t so much a spoof on beauty pageants as it is the story of a family struggling to reconnect.  But frankly, when you put it that way it sounds more like a Hallmark made for TV movie, so it’s probably better to focus on the beauty pageant part when you’re advertising it.

This is one of those movies that I saw a couple of years ago, but it still sticks with me pretty hard.  Not because it’s disturbing (although there are parts that are, especially the pageant itself), but because the characters were quirky and unique and the story was entertaining. It wasn’t that it was a literary masterpiece or an unforgettable plot, but just a genuinely good, likeable movie with a lot of heart and laughs.  Sure, it’s a little trite at times, and a little formulaic, but to be honest, I just really enjoyed the thing.  It’s absolutely worth a rent.

And the Mutant company car breaks down once again.

Didja Notice?

  • I keep thinking Allison Janney played the mother.  She easily could have.
  • Being colorblind sucks.
  • Steve Carrell can actually not be utterly annoying.
  • Swimsuit competition for eight year olds.  I am officially skeeved out.

Groovy Quotes

Grandpa: Will you kindly not interrupt me, Richard! See, right now you’re jailbait, they’re jailbait. It’s perfect. I mean, you hit 18, man! You’re talkin’ about three to five.

Richard: Oh my God, I’m getting pulled over. Everyone, just… pretend to be normal.

Sheryl: What did he say?
Richard: I’ll tell you when I regain consciousness.

Dwayne: I wish I could just sleep until I was eighteen and skip all this crap – high school and everything – just skip it.
Frank: Do you know who Marcel Proust is?
Dwayne: He’s the guy you teach.
Frank: Yeah. French writer. Total loser. Never had a real job. Unrequited love affairs. Gay. Spent 20 years writing a book almost no one reads. But he’s also probably the greatest writer since Shakespeare. Anyway, he uh… he gets down to the end of his life, and he looks back and decides that all those years he suffered, Those were the best years of his life, ’cause they made him who he was. All those years he was happy? You know, total waste. Didn’t learn a thing. So, if you sleep until you’re 18… Ah, think of the suffering you’re gonna miss. I mean high school? High school – those are your prime suffering years. You don’t get better suffering than that.

If You Liked This Movie, Try These:

  • Drop Dead Gorgeous
  • The Full Monty
  • Juno


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