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I thought this WAS about flesh eating zombies...
Pure and honest
Entry #28 - Little Miss Sunshine

Yes, that's right...a combo post! Not only was Little Miss Sunshine the best film that I saw on my vacation to California, it was also so good that it immediately gets a place on my Top 50 Favorite Films list. Please do yourself a favor and take the time to see this film if it comes to your area. I'm telling you now - this is going to be the indie hit of the year with viewers (and the box office if it gets a good enough release). It's not only a great independent film with a brilliant script and emotional performances, it is also one of the laugh-out-loud funniest movies that I have seen in a long time. I would say the final scene is by far one of the funniest single scenes ever put on film, and definitely one of my favorites. Abigail Breslin from Signs is just hysterical in this movie, not to mention the rest of the cast. I could barely breathe I was laughing so hard. Hopefully that will convince even just one of you to see this movie - you won't be disappointed
Film: Little Miss Sunshine
Year: 2006
Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Starring: Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Steve Carell, Alan Arkin, Toni Collette

Plot in one sentence: Family full of issues encounters challenges as they try to get their VW van full of issues to California in time for Olive (Breslin) to compete in a beauty pageant for young girls.

What I liked: The finale at the pageant almost made up for the rest of the movie.

What I didn't like: The personal challenges and disappointments faced by each family member were extremely depressing. Quite frankly, I would kill myself if I had their problems. I'm normally a big fan of dark humor, but I think the problems experienced by this family are too realistic to be funny.

Recommended for: People who like sight gags, funny expressions, and well-timed reaction shots.

Artistic (cinematographic vision) rating: 2 out of 5 berets
Feel-good fun rating: 2 out of 5 popcorns
While I was not as blown away by this movie as I'd hoped, it was still a delightful way to spend an evening.

Because this movie received some great reviews (high 90's on Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer when I first noticed it) and because Sufjan Stevens had some music in the soundtrack, I decided to sign up for a free advanced screening in Washington, DC.

I'm not a big fan of slapstick, but love quirky humor. This film had quirky humor, some of which was slapstick, some just plain quirky. My husband thought the quirkiness was overcalculated in some spots.

Many of the actors were perfectly cast including Beth Grant as a beauty pagent officer. Her role here was very reminiscent of the role she played as the PE teacher/Sparkle Motion coach in Donnie Darko.

Toni Collette as the loving and empowering mother played the part well. She was more forceful in this film than she'd been in The Sixth Sense.

I found myself laughing so hard during this film that my face began to hurt. Even during the parts that I found to be too slapstick had me giggling.

The musical score was delightful -- not overpowering, just right.

I'm not sure this film will stay with me for long, and I cannot say I will want to see it more than once, but it was a lot of fun while it lasted.

See it in a crowded theater if you can. The laughter of the audience is contagious and adds to the enjoyment of the film.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Believe the hype

April's family is coming for Thanksgiving dinner. There's one problem though, her oven isn't working. She must rely on the kindness of neighbors to help get everything ready in time. She isn't close with her family so she wants everything to be especially perfect. This film has a great supporting cast and everything felt real. Good direction too.
Little Miss Sunshine

This movie should win Best Picture. The acting is great, the soundtrack is great, the writing is great. LMS has you laughing and crying. I was feeling really sick today. My Dad took my to see LMS, and even though I am still feeling shitty, I atleast have a smile on my face. But one thing that pisses me off is that The IMDb's Top 1000 Voters have voted LMS a shitty 4.3 out of 10

I g2g, peace out
In my junior of high school, my family of four took a mini-vacation to the Ocoee River located about an hour outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Though that was several years ago, just mention the word "Ocoee" around my house, and you will still hear moans and the recounting of the horror stories of that trip. Needless to say, it was one of those experiences that can be put under the heading "We'll Laugh About It Someday." And though that day has come, allow me to share: we stayed in cabins that looked like the abandoned set of a cheesy horror flick. If Norman Bates had come out to greet us, I would not have been surprised in the least. My brother ordered "room service"- a rib sandwich- and he got rib bones placed between two stale buns. The bathroom were so filthy that we ended up going behind trees. Bugs and infestations abounded. Our sheets were dirty with hair, so we asked for clean sheets; the "clean" sheets were just as nasty. And finally the next day when we actually went rafting, our guide gave us a thirty minute explanation about fatal skull injuries- so frightening that several potential rafters, my mother included, decided to sit this one out. And when my dad, brother, and I did raft, our guide flipped our boat on purpose.

But our Ocoee trip over time has become one of my family's fondest and most vivid memories, although we spent weeks scolding my dad for putting us through the initial torture. Most everyone I know has a familial story such as this one to tell- home videos, pictures, overly long stories. We share these among our relatives, and they understand, but there's always the risk that those on the outside won't. There's just some ineffable thing about everyone's family that only its members seem to get. For proof, just think of almost any relationship you have in which you have met your significant other's family: did he or she not give you warnings beforehand and apologies afterward? Little Miss Sunshine is a film that succeeds in accomplishing this very difficult task.

Until now, there has only been one film that I've watched that has really understood what I have written above: Meet Me in St. Louis. That movie has such a truth about it, despite its confectionary quality that lauds an idea, or rather ideal, of family that never has or will exist. Little Miss Sunshine, however must join the ranks as one of the funniest, most poignant films about families; it blends comedy and light drama in order to produce a film that abounds in truth and heart without ever resorting to an ounce of sentimentality.

All of this is, of course, an amazing feat, considering that most movies about family turn out to be caustic. Look no further than American Beauty for a popular take on middle class America. Even a film that seems to take a lighter edge such as The Royal Tenenbaums seems hostile compared to Sunshine. It's more than rare to see a film that loves and cares so much for the characters, who are in a film that roots for them without any moralizing or hokum. It's purpose it to capture imperfections and idiosyncrasies in order to show how this leads to rich, textured relationships and greater love and appreciation rather than to a family on the verge of middle class insanity. The film itself is sunshine.

The story could not be simpler: young Olive Hoover (Abigail Breslin) is competing in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in California, and the film follows her family's road trip from Albuquerque to the competition. Along for the ride are: her father, Richard (Greg Kinnear), a motivational speaker looking for a book deal in order to save his financially-strapped family from bankruptcy. He's obsessed with being a "winner," obnoxiously spouts his personal philosophies all day long, but is actually a major failure himself; her brother, Dwayne (Paul Dano), who reads Neitzsche, hates everybody, and has taken a vow of silence until gets accepted at the Air Force Academy; her profanity-spewing, coke-head grandfather (Alan Arkin) with whom she has the closest relationship; her mother Cheryl (Toni Collette), who seems like she's just trying to survive being a wife and mother and now caretaker to her brother, Frank (Steve Carell), who is staying with the Hoover's since his suicide attempt. Frank is a world-renowned Proust scholar who slit his wrists after his relationship with a male graduate student failed and spiraled into several other unfortunate events that eventually cost him his job. At the beginning of the film, Olive is the only light in this family, but for better or worse, they are family, and this road trip to California will signal change for them all.

As with most comedy, to describe in detail the humor of the film would be to absolutely ruin the picture for first-time viewers. But even when the film does drift into dramatic territory, it's never heavy or unnecessary, and comic relief is only seconds away. This is a film that actually gets funnier throughout its runtime, culminating in a final scene in which the audience exploded with uproarious laughter- an experience I've never had before.

There is, however, one particular scene that I want to mention, which not only is my favorite from the film but is actually better than most movies I've watched this year. It takes place at the beginning of the trip as they stop for breakfast at a small diner. Cheryl remarks that they have only enough money if everyone eats for under four dollars. Olive complies but orders chocolate ice cream along with her breakfast food, stating that the dollar limit was the only stipulation. Her father, though, proceeds to lecture her about how no model he's heard of would ever be eating such a fattening food. You see the rest of the family grow angry with his comment, and you watch Olive becoming overly self-conscious through her facial expressions and words. But you then watch everyone else at the table take up for Olive; in this perfect scene we are shown the reality of family- its tendency to be overbearing and often emotionally scarring- but also its capacity for redeeming love. It shows the paradoxical nature of familial relationships that we all know to be the truth- that what has the ability to be our refuge can just as easily be damaging. As the joke goes, we'd get rid of the chicken, but we need the eggs.
this movie reminded me of Jon Benet, All the actors should be nominated for Best Performance.
I sometimes find it difficult to watch movies I've been dying to see for a very long time (ex: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind- waited a year after reading the script to actually be able to view the film) objectively. I expect them to wow me, and if I'm not WOWed then I'm usually extremely disappointed.

Little Miss Sunshine found me in tears for half of the movie, laughing for one third, and on the edge of my seat pretty much the whole time (a lot of overlapping emotions there).

Unfortunately, I spent so much time hyping myself up for the movie that, as I often do, I ruin some of the surprises by gorging myself on reviews, trailers, interviews and the like and go into it thinking not "what are the filmmakers going to show me" but "HOW are they going to present this?"

So I knew most of the major plot points, and I'm sure that tainted the emotional experience for me. That aside, I thought the characters were wonderfully developed and beautifully acted. Each of the Hoovers followed a graceful arc to whatever place the ending found them.

And up to the ending, I was eating out of the palm of directors Faris and Dayton's four hands.

But I found a feeling of irresolution in the pit of my stomach as the credits rolled. When you see the parting shot, you know that's the end of the movie and yet some of the movies leave you with a feeling of "that's it? you've got to be kidding me."

I told a friend of mine on the way out of the movie that most movies of this sort of dramacomedy/dysfunctional family with a heart of gold genre tend to end with an "exclamation point" or some kind of punctuation- a parting shot, word, thought, or emotion.

I left the theater feeling that I'd watched the throughly entertaining, touching, poignant film only to miss the last moment of the movie. I'm not trusting myself on this one, though, even without the punctuation at the end of the movie, I would call it the best movie I've seen this summer and reccomend it to anyone I liked (I'd be recommending Superman Returns to anyone I disliked).

I'll have to watch the movie one more time and look closer for the period before the fade to black.
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