Little Miss Sunshine
Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer: Michael Arndt
Producers: Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, Ron Yerxa, David T. Friendly, Albert Berger
Starring: Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin, Alan Arkin
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 101 min
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A Review by Misael Soto
     I almost completely forgot about writing a review during and after catching a screening of the new transcendentally funny (look up transcendentally on and use the third definition) indie dramedy Little Miss Sunshine. I couldn't help but make myself forget to think about the film critically and just take it in for what it was. As my friends and I stopped for some milkshakes following the film, instead of zoning them out and concentrating on my movie "experience" and what it meant as I usually do, I found myself reminding myself to simply live and enjoy the time we were sharing right then and there. I forgot about the film critically while applying one of its principle points, to enjoy the moment at hand, and I ended up having a blast. In retrospect, it was definitely a memorable experience. Little Miss Sunshine is a film that makes you forget about the frivolous problems in life and helps you focus on what truly matters. A film I saw recently, The Devil Wears Prada, carries a similar message; but while that film scratches the surface as a morality story, with stereotypical characters and sophomoric symbolism, Little Miss Sunshine digs deeper making it a truly complex and thoroughly entertaining work of art.

      Itís been said that itís possible to make a great film about anything and everything. The premise doesnít matter, itís what you do with the basic material and how ambitious you want to be with it that ultimately determines whether a film is great or not. Little Miss Sunshine has a typically simple indie-film premise, a family embarks on a road trip to fulfill a little girlís dream to compete a beauty pageant, and yet more is said in a five minute conversation between two characters than in the entire running time of any of this summerís action blockbusters. Any one of the filmís characters is infinitely more complex than any of this yearís superheroes or action stars. There's just so much in this film that can be picked apart and analyzed, and itís completely engrossing and entertaining at the same time. And that's what Little Miss Sunshine achieves so precisely; first time feature film directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton know exactly how much of the intellectual to put in while still maintaining a thin and recognizable base that keeps your attention indefinitely. This is a work of literature just as much as a work of cinema.

      This is the first film this year that I immediately want to see again. Aside from having true substance and value, not to mention immeasurable originality, Little Miss Sunshine is an immensely enjoyable experience. While the laughs donít come around quite as often as the trailers may let on, when they do come around the jokes are not only hilarious but memorable in their unmistakable charm and freshness. The entire cast is pitch-perfect. Steve Carellís character is of the most subtle hilarity; with more quirks than any supporting player has a right to have. Abigail Breslin (Signs), who plays 7-year-old Olive, is enchanting on screen as the heart of the film and the last shred of innocence and hope left in a family that always seems on the brink of falling apart. Finally, the choice of casting Alan Arkin in the grandfather role is brilliant. With some of the funniest lines from any film this year, he delivers laughs every time he opens his mouth.

      One of the keys to understanding one of Little Miss Sunshineís messages is an unconventionally straight forward ďmeaning of lifeĒ conversation towards the end of the film between Paul Dano's and Carell's characters. Along with Dano's character Dwayne we learn that the best part of life is the struggle to become who you want to be, once we're there we tend to become complacent and retrogressive, forgetting how we got there in the first place. Little Miss Sunshine teaches us to never forget, if only for an unforgettably compelling hour and forty minutes.

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Links: - full cast and crew
Official Site
FLIXSTER PAGE for Little Miss Sunshine


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