Little Miss Sunshine directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Starring – Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear
When a family’s youngest member is offered the chance to compete in the finals of the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant, the family have no choice but to take a cross-country road trip to get her there. Having been recently encumbered with a suicidal uncle, the whole family has to cram into a VW camper van and make the long journey together.
Little Miss Sunshine has been one of my favourite films for a long, long time. It’s a heartwarming film about a slightly dysfunctional family coming together to support each other when it’s needed most. The premise sounds like a lot of other films but Little Miss Sunshine absolutely gets what family can be like and makes the touching moments feel more real and comedy a more natural humour.
Even the film opening is one of my all time favourites. It introduces the audience to all of the central characters by revealing their secret obsessions or personality traits, allowing you to suss them out instantly. There’s the beauty pageant obsessed Olive (Abigail Breslin), the drug addicted Grandpa (Alan Arkin), the introverted teen Dwayne (Paul Dano), motivational speaker Richard (Greg Kinnear), secret smoker Sheryl (Toni Collette) and suicidal uncle (Steve Carell). After the introduction of the characters has taken place, the primary opening scene sets the tone for the film and allows the audience a view at how the family dynamic works. It’s normal but its hilarious. With so many different conflicts operating at once while at the same time trying to keep their youngest, Olive, at her young naivety.
The audience are allowed a glimpse at the Hoover families day to day relationships and can see all is not well. And then they’re all thrown into a confined space for a prolonged period of time, on a trip no-one really wants to be on. It is such a believable situation and allows for some genuinely funny moments purely based on human psychology.
Each of the performances within the film are exceptional and I genuinely cannot fault them. The gradual character progressions and journeys are so well depicted, that each unique story has its turn at humour and emotion. That’s what I like the most about this film. The narrative is just absolutely brilliant. It’s a subtle arc that allows each character to develop to a believable level and ultimately becomes a story about a family growing closer together and fixing deep rooted tensions.
There’s something in Little Miss Sunshine for everyone and each different person I’ve watched it with has had their own favourite character that has differed each time, saying a lot about the films mass appeal due to its multiple characters. The narrative moves along at a brilliant pace allowing appropriate time to see our favourite characters change and grow. Morally there’s something in the narrative for everyone to take away and says a lot about the importance of a family unit no matter how different everyone within it is.