January 20, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine - $10

This is a great movie and I am a better person for having watched it.

In Little Miss Sunshine we watch a unique family going through a lot of changes. Richard is a failed motivational speaker, Sheryl is on her second marriage, Grandpa sleeps on the couch after being kicked out of his seniors complex, Uncle Frank moves in after attempting suicide as the doctors recommend he not be left alone, 15 year old Dwayne hasn't spoken in 9 months and 7 year old Olive dreams of becoming a beauty queen.

Through a series of circumstances each of these people ends up in a Volkswagen van together in order to get Olive to the beauty contest of her dreams, Little Miss Sunshine.

This movie is full of impressive performances, at first glance Grandpa's inappropriate comments and drug addiction seem to sum him up but as we see more of him we realize he is at times a caring Father and loving Grandfather. This is really the kind of lens I saw each character through, I am given an impression of them early on and then this story proceeds to blow that impression away.

Little Miss Sunshine challenges our human tendency to hastily judge people through well developed characters that are brilliantly written and even more impressively performed. It is hard to pick out just one actor to praise from Little Miss Sunshine, however, the performance which impressed me most was that of Steve Carell. Carell plays Uncle Frank and this has to be considered the most subtle role of his young film career. Carell is funny as well as moving which is also a fair summary of this entire movie.

Little Miss Sunshine is one of the best movies of 2006 and hopefully the first of many that will be brought to us by first time screenwriter Michael Arndt. I enjoyed this movie from start to finish and I did something I'd never before done, I watched it a second time the next day before returning it.

You need to see Little Miss Sunshine, it is unquestionably on my 'Watch It' list and I give it a value of $10.


Coutts said...

wow, we also watched this last night, and ended up watching half of it with commentary right afterwards as well. what a great movie. i haven't heard my wife laugh that hard in a long long time! (apparently i'm not very funny)

good review. what i thought interesting is that like real people each of these characters had good and negative, and we saw it all. i mean, the grandpa has issues, but you are right, he was for much of the movie the only caring person on the screen. he is not someone you can label, and he is not one thing or the other. he is all of that.

and each character seems to have settled in a rut of self-absorption in their lives, but this trip brought some of that family out of them and it was so good, not to mention so funny.

i highly recommend the commentary by the way. can't say that about all movies.

good review. that's 2 $10 reviews in a row. you better rent princess diaries 2 or something to keep yourself from getting in a rut

Tony Tanti said...

good comments Jon. I like your point about self absorption and the good that the road trip did for this problem in all of them.

I know, 2 $10 reviews in a row. I really am sparing with the $10 review but I just happened to see 2 great movies in a row.

Trev said...

Ok Toni, I've been a silent reader of your blog for a long time now, but I just HAVE to make a comment here.

I would have to strongly disagree with you on this movie. The final scene with the little girl dancing seductively was more than I could bare. Not only did that scene disturb me on a visual level but on an emotional level...

It's one thing to have a movie that displays and exposes the faults and downfalls of our society but it's a whole 'nother ball game when you're PRAISING it. Which is what I felt this movie was doing.

I felt that the final and dissapointing conclusive statement of this movie was if you can't beat'em, join 'em. This movie was a fine example of how culture is just throwing in the "moralistic towel"

It would be like saying, "hey, I think homosexualtiy is wrong but, heck, they're gonna do it anyway...may as well throw them a parade."

I did not cheer for that girl, I cried for her.

Tony Tanti said...

Trev, I don't know where you're coming from here, I really don't. If you thought the little girls dance at the end was seductive then you were watching something different than me. The girl had no idea what kind of dance she had been taught but only that she was doing what her grampa told her to do. The grampa can likely be held responsible for suggesting such a thing to a young girl and this would fit with his messed up view of just about everything.

The family jumped up to support their girl from getting booed off the stage, not to condone a little girl mocking a strip show. I think you completely missed the point on that one, and the whole movie for that matter.

I'm not sure who you mean when you say "culture" is throwing in the moralistic towel. Who is culture? There are about 100 opinions for every 100 people on where the moral line can be drawn and if you saw this moving movie about real people going through real life struggles as immoral then we do disagree strongly.

I don't think I have to agree with every choice a ficticious movie character makes to be moved and postively affected by the type of person they represent.

I stand by my judgement of this movie and looking back I still think it's one of the best I've seen for years.

Trev said...

I find I agree with most of what you said. You make some very interesting points about the movie. And perhaps, you've read into the story in a way that the creators have intended. However, to me, it feels like the story was cheapened by its presentation. I know you're not going to like this comment, but just hear me out.

I found all the characters along with the situations they were in to be exaggerated beyond belief. To me, it felt like a good, dramatic story dressed up in the guise of a slapstick comedy. When my friends and I walked out of theatre we all said the same thing: "It feels like this movie has an identity crisis"

All I'm saying here is look at how over-the-top every character was, all in the SAME family. This to me seems like the kind of slapstick setup you would see in a family comedy starring Ice cube, or Eddie Murphy. You know, the kind of movies where they don't actually expect you to care about the characters.

And perhaps, Toni, this is where you and I differ in our movie experiences. I have to relate to a character before I can care about them. Sure, this philosophy doesn't apply to myself in real-life situations, however, in real life, you get more than 90 minutes to get to know someone.

I just didn't care enough about these characters. The only one I cared about was the one seemingly normal person in the family: the girl, which is why it was so hard for me to watch that final sequence. The dance WAS seductive in nature, whether or not she was aware of that.