Little Miss Sunshine (2006) Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. With Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Alan Arkin, Paul Dano and Abigail Breslin.
In a way, Little Miss Sunshine could easily be construed as the pilot episode of a feature length sit-com, in which the characters leave their usual dwelling for a one-off outdoor adventure. It’s classic dysfunctional family, with every character harbouring their own ying to yang flaws, that help the writing flow effortlessly onto the page.
The set-up is simple. Family unit decides, for varying reasons, to take a cross country trip together in a VW camper van in order for their young daughter to participate in a beauty pageant.
Amid the tight spacial confines of the bus, writer Micheal Arndt, creates perfect emotional distance between each player and their individual need to be the most understood of the group. With a fine cast including Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell and Alan Arkin, the film is brimming with small comedic nuances that make repeated viewing essential. From Arkin’s foul mouthed Grandad, to the charm of innocence, as played by the child of the piece, Abigail Breslin, there’s much on offer.
Co-directors, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, best known until now for their work in music videos, make the transition the big screen look easy. Their film is full of those subtle quirks, that while might not having you belly laughing in the aisles, keep you constantly smiling throughout.
The family message, that despite our differences, we’re all really batting for the same team, is beautifully stated at the end. The film never dips too deeply in sentimentalism, and is full of imperfect people trying their best to cope with each other, for the greater good. Ultimately, and despite it’s fair share of sadness along the way, Little Miss Sunshine aims to make you feel good. 4.5/5