I really liked 'Little Miss Sunshine' for a couple of reasons - the acting by all of the cast members was really good. Toni Collette particularly was really good, capturing a lot of the subtleties of her character. She and Greg Kinnear also had a really good chemistry as the couple struggling with money pressures and a number of dysfunctional family members. Steve Carell is really good as troubled 'Frank', one of the best minds in the country who's tried to commit suicide after falling in love with a student. He plays the role with humour, poignancy and intelligence, casting a critical eye on the Dad's (Kinnear) failed 9-step plan to success. Collette, who's 'pro-honesty', decides not to hide the reasons for Frank's injuries from young Olive, her daughter who's desperate to complete in the LMS beauty pagent. But there's more to this family - Grandad's being thrown out of his retirement home for smoking heroin, remarking re drug use 'when you're old you're crazy not to'; and Dwayne has taken a 9-month vow of silence and looks to continue until he reaches flight school.
The script is fresh, original and fairly humourous with interesting characters. Its true that it would be interesting to learn more of Frank's troubles prior to his suicide attempt, but its almost like all of the characters are enduring their own 'struggles' privately - Mum's smoking, Grandad's doing drugs, Dad and Dwayne are bottling up their anxieties. Only Frank and Olive seem oddly trouble free - Frank because he's been sacked and has nothing to do, but accompany the family on their road trip to the pagent; and Olive because of her innocent ambitions to win the pagent. The film is really about the strength of familial bonds, no matter what and it is a satisfying movie!