Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Little Miss Sunshine (2006):Outstanding!! An absolutely brilliant satirical dark comedy























IMDB Rating 8.0/10

Review by Robert W. (Robert_duder@hotmail.com) from Ontario, Canada

I had heard a little about Little Miss Sunshine and it intrigued me enough to want to see it so I finally caught it on DVD and I was blown away by it's creative edge, it's unique blend of dark humor and painful human emotion. The film is quite simply brilliant!! Anyone who truly loves a very real and powerful story about families that will make you laugh as much as it will make you cry must see this film. What makes the film even more impressive is the outstanding ensemble cast that captures every moment of comedy in such a twisted manner that you almost feel guilt for finding the absolute hilarity in their mixed up and disturbed road trip. On top of that co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris are long time partners who have pioneered direction in music videos and documentaries but never truly a feature film and yet they smash one out of the park with this incredible story.

In essence everyone in this film is a "supporting actor" because no one character is more important than the other or more featured. They all have this goal and this way of supporting each other's brilliant performances and ironically the one actor to be nominated for a Golden Globe, I thought, was one of the weaker characters and roles. Greg Kinnear is Richard in another brilliant turn as a character actor for Kinnear. Richard is pig headed, stubborn, well meaning but very demeaning at the same time. He doesn't realize the importance of his family and yet he strives and struggles to do the best by them. This is hands down his best role since "As Good As It Gets" and he still shows he can pull off a powerful performance. Impressive as well is the young Paul Dano who plays emotionally tortured and self inflicted teenager Dwayne who has taken a vow of silence until he completes his life goal of joining the air force and flying. Dano captures the tortured teen perfectly and considering he has fewer lines than any other character he has to rely on his body language and talent to carry the role and he does that wonderfully. He also puts forth some of the really emotional parts in the film and I think he should be recognized for his brilliant part. Steve Carell....STEVE CARELL...well as many truly great comedians do (ie: Robin Williams, Will Smith, Jim Carey etc.) Carell finds the role that might show the world he is far more than a slapstick comedian and he really can't hold a serious role. His role is the best in this film hands down. It's more of a subtle performance as Frank, the suicidal, brilliant and gay brother-in-law/brother who is forced to go on the trip because he is on suicide watch. He immediately bonds with the tortured soul of Dwayne, plays provocateur to the overly emotional Richard and ultimately teaches each member of the family something. This is hands down an amazing feat for Carell who should get an Academy Award nomination for this part!! He never breaks the drama to show off a funny side except to be ironic and satirical the way the movie needs to be. Multi-Oscar and Emmy nominated actor Alan Arkin plays the rough and rugged Grandpa who is soft at the core and loves his family dearly but has many regrets about his life. His crazy antics, foul mouth and love for women makes him absolutely hilarious and an outstanding addition to the cast. Arkin is spectacular. And there is young Abigail Breslin who already has an impressive resume of performances including her debut which was in M. Night Shyamalan's Signs where she did an outstanding job. She further proves her young acting ability by playing the baby of the family, Olive whose desire more than anything else in the world is to be in the Little Miss Sunshine Beauty Pageant. She is the soul of the family in many ways and she is the reason of the trip and ultimately she is the one that brings them all together in the hilarious, unbelievable climax. She does a terrific job!! Finally Toni Collette plays the disenchanted mother Sheryl and I don't mean to downplay her performance but I don't think the character is as strong as some of the others and therefore her performance suffers but she got the Golden Globe nod so what do I know?? As the head of the family desperately trying to hold everyone together and bring some sense of normality to their lives she seems almost like she's falling apart but we don't really get to look too much into that.

So very few films could pull off being so touching and dark and yet make you howl with laughter so loudly. It is such an incredible road trip film that does without special effects, unrealistic, silly premise or anything else but relies on an incredible cast, a real story, and something and someones that anyone could relate to. It's truly the ultimate story of a wacky family that just loves each other and sticks together. If nothing else the climax of the film when Olive performs at the pageant just might become an instant classic moment in film history and will have you laughing to tears. Everyone and anyone could enjoy this movie and is sure to be an instant classic!! 10/10

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