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Movies: Little Miss Sunshine
Wednesday, 2007 March 28 - 8:18 am
So have I mentioned that we got the Blockbuster Total Access thing? The thing that everyone calls Blockbuster's NetFlix (much to Blockbuster's chagrin, no doubt)? Well, we got that, and now I'm starting to catch up on several years' worth of missed movies.

"Little Miss Sunshine" is the story of a family's road trip to get their little girl to a beauty pageant. The mom Sheryl (Toni Collette) is trying to hold the household together. The dad Richard (Greg Kinnear) is a motivational speaker whose career is going nowhere. The grandfather (Alan Arkin) is a foul-mouthed heroin addict. The son Dwayne (Paul Dano) hates everyone, wants to be a fighter pilot, and is taking a vow of silence until he achieves his goal. The brother Frank (Steve Carell) recently attempted suicide over losing his gay lover and career to an academic rival. And finally, there's the little girl Olive (Abigail Breslin) who wants nothing more than to win a beauty pageant.

As you can imagine, things don't always run smoothly for this family.

Though the subject matter seems depressing, this movie has frequent moments of hilarity. It's definitely in the "dark comedy" genre, but it really works here. It's a little reminiscent of "Slums of Beverly Hills" (another Arkin movie), but with a much tighter script and better acting. Steve Carell is brilliant here, giving an understated performance that you might not expect from him. Toni Collette, whom I loved in "Clockwatchers", is again wonderful. And Abigail Breslin is absolutely perfect in her role.

The directing and editing are enjoyably subtle. I'm beginning to think you can really judge a movie's quality by looking at the facial expressions of the actors. If you can read a whole chapter of emotion in a three-second shot, that's good directing and acting.

If you spend sixty seconds trying to hammer home an actor's agonized melodrama, then that's bad directing and acting.

"Little Miss Sunshine" has a significant message that it conveys through clever satire, though I'll avoid talking about that for fear of ruining the plot. I will say, though, that the movie is neither preachy nor heavy, and though you'll surely get its message, you won't feel like you've been whacked over the head with it.

Rating: 4.5 / 5
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Posted by Ken in: moviesreviews


Comment #1 from Phil (Guest)
2007 Mar 29 - 3:52 pm : #
I really look forward to seeing this.

Thanks for doing the compare with Slums of Beverly Hills. I wanted to like that movie, but it just didn't happen. I didn't even finish it.

I seem to have an NPR curse, too. If I hear a movie reviewed on NPR (whether or not they like it), I end up not liking it. While it's true that I did hear Greg Kinnear talk about LMS with Terry Gross, it wasn't actually a *review*, so I think I'll be OK.
Comment #2 from Crouching Hamster (Guest)
2007 Mar 30 - 12:01 am : #
I was trying to see LMS in the theaters forever! At least I know it will be just as promising on DVD.

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