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Little Miss Sunshine
Genre Comedy
Year: 2006

Little Miss Sunshine is a fun, moving road trip film. It’s got plenty of heart, and this band of misfits all seem to rediscover what’s important in life on their journey to let Olive (Amy Breslin) participate in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant.

The cast is a mixture of drama and comedy actors. Alan Arkin is fantastic in a surprise Oscar-winning Best Supporting Actor performance. He acted well, but one gets the feeling it was awarded on the basis that he has accumulated a number of strong performances. Strangely enough, he is also lauded as one of about five actors to get nominated for an Oscar in a debut performance. Abigail Breslin was nominated for an Oscar, the youngest nominee in the history of the Academy Awards. She deserved the recognition, and dominates most of her scenes. Arkin said that it would have been somewhat tragic if she had won it at such an early age. Many feel that winning an Oscar is the crown on a career. The other cast members consist of other accomplished actors: Steve Carell, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano and Toni Collete.

Frank (Carell) is a suicidal Proust academic, who can’t get over a failed relationship with an undergraduate student. Richard (Kinnear) is a motivational speaker, who obsesses over winning and selling his definitive step success model. Grandpa (Arkin) is an old crude man with a drug problem and a chip on his shoulder. Dwayne (Dano) is a teenager, who subscribes to Nietzsche’s ideas, and has taken to Trappism because he hates everyone. Sheryl, the mom, is unhappily married and smoking and buckets of chicken seem to be synonymous with her style of mothering. While little innocent Olive (Breslin) is stuck at the heart of all the dysfunction.

The family decide to take a road trip to Florida, when Olive is invited to participate in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant for 7-year-olds. They take their old yellow VW Combi through a number of funny situations on their way to fulfil little Olive’s dream. The performances are what glues this glad bunch of misfits together into this funny little film. It reminded me of Around the Bend with Christopher Walken in some instances, with a lighter shade of happiness and comedy. The cast’s chemistry is what elevates this film, which is aided by competent directing and good writing.

Little Miss Sunshine won BAFTA, BFCA, CFCA, CDG, DGA, Gotham, Golden Globe, Independent Spirit, Satellite, SAG and WGA awards, amongst others. So the Oscar wins were really just a cherry on the top of a huge prize haul. See it for yourself, and then decide whether you think he deserves all the praise. I for one, think it’s fantastic to see little movies getting so much notice.

The bottom line: Charming.

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