Little Miss Sunshine

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By Sonya Rehman

Little Miss Sunshine is one of those new age indie feel-good flicks, minus the camp cheesiness. Based around a small, quirky, American family – the characters make their way from one state to the next in the hope to make it for their daughter’s beauty pageant. The movie follows the characters as they chug along in a chubby, bright yellow, rickety old VW van. No, it’s not one of those nutty road trip movies (with over the top and overly sexed humour), rather, a little journey with a bunch of ordinary people.

The realness of each character depiction, somehow hits very close to home as it touches upon certain issues in a very placid, yet comic manner. Neither will you slap your knee, roll your head back and laugh out loud, nor is it a tearjerker. The
scenes, the story and the characters have the ability to warm your heart like a hot cup of cappuccino and you’ll find yourself smiling and letting out a chuckle from time to time as it progresses.

Olive, a tubby seven year old with massive glasses (hiding her round blue eyes) receives a phone call from the Little Miss Sunshine pageant (informing her of her selection) the very same day her Uncle (Steve Carell from The 40 year old virgin) arrives in their house as he’s nearly escaped a suicide attempt (because his boyfriend dumped him). With her parents, dry-witted Uncle, her doting grandpa (who snorts cocaine locked up in the loo), and her older brother, Dwayne, (who hasn’t spoken for nine months and lives on a diet of Nietzsche) – all piled up in their good old VW, they chug their way, 700 miles down to another state, in the hope to make it for little Olive’s contest.

Steve Carell’s acting comes as a bit of a surprise, because after his debut in The 40 year old virgin, one would expect him to be typecast in similar wonky roles. But his role deliverance as a brooding/jilted Proust scholar is terrific, as he superbly brings out the dark humour (of actions and facial expressions) that his character requires. With his sarcastic one-liners and shifty globular eyes, he sets the witty idiosyncratic tone that the film necessitates to break free from the typical happy-go-lucky-pseudo-fest movie themes.

Paul Dano (Olive’s brother and a relatively new face on the big screen) also seems to do his role justice by portraying a highly intelligent yet sardonic teenager, without speaking (he only does so towards the last half hour). He depicts teenage angst to the T and you can’t help but chortle as he scribbles little notes on his notepad to substitute speech (as he has an oath to stay silent till he gets into the air force)!

The theme of Little Miss Sunshine follows along the lines of leaving no stone unturned when it comes to setting your heart on a certain dream…even if that means getting to the pot of gold in a V W on its last legs!

The ending is as different and as heart warming as when it first started – giving it that ‘gentility’ that many family movies these days tend to lack. With its endearing life messages, and charming humour, Little Miss Sunshine is a must-see for anyone wanting to unwind and have a chuckle or two.

Instep, The News

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