Little Miss Sunshine follows a dysfunctional family, most of whom dislike each other, on their road trip to California for the Little Miss Sunshine in which the young daughter is entered. This dysfunctional family contains a dickhead stepfather, a caring mother, a son who is voluntarily mute, a daughter who is the pageant hopeful, a drug addict grandfather and a suicidal uncle. Yeah, sounds fun.
Steve Carell plays Frank, the suicidal uncle to the family. I will not reveal why or how he attempted suicide as it is told in the film better than i could ever convey to you. I will however say that this is by far Carell’s best role to date and definitely his best performance. He is simply fantastic in this role, extremely convincing as a depressed genius and the comedy is very under played and so subtle it is just a credit to both Carell’s delivery and the script.
Greg Kinnear plays Richard, the stepfather, who for the first half of the film, is a complete cunt, but then he gains redemption in my eyes, and supposedly the audiences eyes too. Kinnear gives a great performance however he is definitely out shined by the rest of the cast.
Paul Dano plays Dwayne, the teenager who has chosen to become mute until he reaches a certain goal gives a superb performance. Dano was great as Dwayne, conveying various degrees of emotion with only his face and eyes truly is an achievement and as the film progresses his performance becomes stronger and stronger.
Abigail Breslin is nothing short of amazing as Olive, the pageant hopeful. Breslin is adorable, heart-warming and just astounding as Olive, giving her a complete personality, with worries, flaws, fears and habits, which all culminates into a character you really care about and genuinely want to succeed.
Alan Ardkin and Toni Collette are also both great in their roles, however, i feel the 3 main characters are Frank, Dwayne and Olive and that the rest of the cast are supporting characters to THEIR journey, both literally and metaphorically.
This was Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ first major motion picture and as directorial debuts go it was very average with some minor flair.
The cinematography is beautiful, however the shots in the van and for most of the film are very generic and are standard comedy fair, this film, i feel, deserved better than a paint-by-numbers approach to directing. The directing by no mean hinders the film but it does however stop it from being a superb film.
Michael Arndt wrote the screenplay and, simply put, it is fantastic, if a little predictable. The story is fresh and original, the characters are rich and each have their moment to shine, the jokes are extremely natural and flow with the drama and story perfectly.
Arndt won an Academy Award for this script and he definitely deserved it. Looking at his bio, i also see he wrote another fantastic film, Toy Story 3. Arndt has definitely chose his projects wisely, i can see his star rising in Hollywood and i expect great things from him in the future.
Although this film is predictable and the directing leaves a lot to be desired, that is more than made up for by the fantastic story and great performances. This film is a heartwarming, fun time with some real emotional punch, i am not afraid to admit that it had me tearing up a few times.
This film also had some minor pacing issues, which for a film under 100 mins is a major problem and caused me to question the script, but after the midway slump, the pacing picked back up and we were good to go.
You should definitely watch this film, whether it be on your own or even with your family, as this film shows that no matter how dysfunctional your family is, love is a powerful emotion that surpasses all other feelings.