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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best indie flick of 2006!!
This was another one of those films I know too little about when I saw it. That was the best thing about it. It was a complete surprise and was one of the most touching and humourous films of the year.

The old story of a dysfunctional family coming together through tough times to realise that their family really is quite special, has never been done with such...
Published on 16 Dec 2006 by T. Cosens

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 9 hellish steps to redemption
This is a funny and touching movie with a sharply observed script and fine performances from all the cast. Although deceptively slight on plot there is plenty to enjoy during the insanely hapless road trip and the excruciating beauty pageant. And the journey is, of course, a cathartic one for all concerned. My only criticisms are that the quirkiness of the characters is a...
Published on 12 April 2009 by sft


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best indie flick of 2006!!, 16 Dec 2006
By 
T. Cosens (England) - See all my reviews
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This was another one of those films I know too little about when I saw it. That was the best thing about it. It was a complete surprise and was one of the most touching and humourous films of the year.

The old story of a dysfunctional family coming together through tough times to realise that their family really is quite special, has never been done with such skill as this.

You dont feel bogged down in any setimentality. You just enjoy the ride. Trust me its a fun ride! The characters are superb. Little Miss Sunshine herself being an extremely lovable lead. Then you have grouchy Granpa and suicidal Uncle (Steve Carrell on top form). The ruthless "must win everything" father and the caring doting mother aswell as the moody and silent older brother.

Some of the set peices will go down in history, such as, the hilarious van they use to drive cross-country. To start it up they have to push until they are going fast enough to jump gears.

This carries a strong message of family values, but doesnt ram it in your face! Its a well crafted, funny, touching and entertaining film which deserves to be watched and adored by all.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Offbeat perfection with widespread appeal? surely not..., 8 July 2007
By 
Mr. C. A. Lillie (Wallasey, Merseyside United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Right, so there it is!! Offbeat dark comedy with uplifting and life enhancing scenes illustrating impressive family and life moral issues??? Yup!! That's the sum of its parts! Good acting in relatively superficial characters that somehow provide a very enjoyable experience from beginning to end!!

That's what this is!! The wonderful sum of its dark yet accessible parts! Genious, more of this.....
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic viewing, 16 April 2007
This is one of the best films I've watched for ages.... touching, quirky, well acted and hilarious. It made me laugh out loud several times!

This is definitely a film that I will watch again. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Indie Film, 14 Feb 2007
By 
C. Mcsloy "I baptised a dog" (Nowhere in particular today) - See all my reviews
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Went to see this little gem at the cinema when it came out and I would strongly recommend it. Even if it turned out to be tosh it would have been worth watching for the great cast alone. You've got Toni Collete, Greg Kinnear, Steve Carrol and the greatest supporting actor ever (and the original inspector Cleuseou fact finders) Alan Arkin. The script is great funny yet not lightweight, offbeat without being overly weird and quirky. The chemistry between the cast is magic, particularly the relationship between Steve Carrol (in his first "straight role") and Alan Arkin. Greg Kinnear is also definately warming on me, he is always credible and he always chooses really interesting projects like this, Nurse Betty or Autofocus. Plus it is a road movie and road movies are always good, even if they're bad!!!
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66 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Don't apologize. It's a sign of weakness.", 20 Dec 2006
In a movie with some of the most beautifully drawn characters I've seen in a movie this year, Little Miss Sunshine proves that being a success in life often comes from deep within the heart and that love can come where you least expect it. It doesn't take long to figure out that dysfunction is the order of the day in Hoover family of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Grandpa (Alan Arkin) is a bitter old hippy who swears profusely and does heroin. Dad (Greg Kinnear) has hopes to publish a dreary nine-step program that asks people to banish their inner losers and be winners. Chubby little Olive (a lovely Abigail Breslin) is determined to become a prepubescent beauty queen, the winner of the Little Miss Sunshine.

Olive's sullen brother (Paul Dano) wants to join the air force and hasn't spoken for nine months and his uncle Frank (Steve Carell) is America's most renowned Proust scholar who has just tried to commit suicide after his boyfriend dumped him.

Leave it to Mom (Toni Collette) the only one of this weird bunch who seems to be grounded yet who gravitates between simmering resentment of her husband and an aching desire to keep her family together. She obviously loves them all but she's too distracted to cook; it's all KFC and Pepsi night after night.

But when the cute owl-eyed Olive finds out that she has a serious chance of winning the Little Miss Sunshine contest in California, no one can decide who should go with her, so the whole Hoover bunch piles into a Volkswagen bus so that Olive can take her shot at the crown.

Thus begins their wacky road trip, which full of trouble, where death lies just around the corner and some family secrets are better left unsaid. Beautifully acted by this superlative ensemble cast - the timing of all six leads is impeccable - Little Miss Sunshine sort of gravitates between black comedy and a kind of benign sadness.

Obviously these are all frustrated people, their lives up until now seem to have peppered with frustrations and disappointments, and none of them have really achieved their dreams, which makes their desire to get Olive to the pageant in time, all the more auspicious.

For all the exaggerations in Michael Arndt's script which has been dashingly directed by the husband-wife team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris - the movie comes closer to the truth about the way people really live - on the edge of fantasy-driven desperation - than any other film to be released in recent years. Perhaps this is why the film has managed to touch so many hearts.

Obviously, the beat-up and broken down old Volkswagen is a metaphor for this family, who when we first meet them seems to be breaking apart at the seams. Yet they seem to struggle along and cope, even though, as with they're likely their means of transport, only the third and fourth gears are functioning. Their trip is indeed peppered with many disappointments, but in the process they do indeed discover what it really means to be a family. Mike Leonard December 06.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sunny, funny joy, 30 Nov 2006
By 
I. Curry "IDC" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Little Miss Sunshine is an appropriate title for a film which burst onto the independent cinema screens like a surprising, welcome and thoroughly enjoyable slice of art-house comedy. This is a tightly written, well scripted, excellently acted and hilarious film, at turns darkly and self-assuredly black and then riotously slapstick and self deprecating.

The storyline centres around the trans-American adventures of a less than ordinary American family. With Transamerica, the unconventional road trip is obviously the comedy medium of choice in the independent cinema world. The film's very own Little Miss Sunshine is the gloriously unglamorous, vivacious and joyous Olive (Abigail Breslin), the youngest of the family. She wins the opportunity to attend the final of the Little Miss Sunshine pageant after the state winner is disqualified for diet pill abuse.

This should send warning bells for the type of contest she is entering. This is the very dark, very disturbing world of American beauty contest. Eventually the truth is revealed, but first the family have to get there. This involves the suffering rock-like figure of the mom Sheyl (Toni Collette) and the can-do go getting, but ultimately failing author of a self-help book and seminar, the nine steps, dad Richard (Greg Kinnear) eschewing air travel for cost reasons, and loading the family in to a VW camper van.

Along for the ride, and in perfect comedy unison, is the drug snorting, care-home evicted grandfather (whose eventual death provides the central slapstick, and whose last gift is a dance routine for the talent segment of the show that has to be seen to be believed), the mute, difficult teenage brother, who hates the world, his family and loves Nietzsche, and just wants to escape to flying school. Sheryl's brother is also brought, mostly because after a failed suicide attempt he can not be left alone. He provides much of the dry, darker humour that is very reminiscent of the best of the Royal Tennenbaums. He is a homosexual expert on Proust, who grates against the dad but eventually seems to come back around to enjoying life on the trip.

The film is at once a wonderfully life-affirming slice of an atypical American family, and a refreshing change from the dysfunctional middle-class families that have obsessed Hollywood for the past decade. It is also a masterpiece of characterisation and casting. The characters are honed to comic perfection, and the casting of each actor and actress is a masterpiece for the roles. Of especial note and perfection is Breslin as Olive. To find a child actor so able to play this role without self consciousness or precocity makes her extremely endearing and an easy character to root for in the bizarre world of child beauty pageants. But each of the other main characters is also extremely well executed.

The darkest elements of the film come in the portrayal of the pageants. They seem to suggest a sickness at the heart of middle America, where these children, none older than eight, are sprayed, preened, brushed and made up to be like miniature dolls. They wear their sickly smiles, their horribly suggestive outfits and are paraded in a pageant that features the oddly paedophilic compare and the horrendously competitive mothers.
In short this is an extremely enjoyably film, and it would do it a massive disservice to simply label it as `feel good', but it does have this effect. Together with a brilliantly talented cast and a tight, wonderfully executed script this makes the surprise comedy hit of the year.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and heartwarming!, 14 Dec 2006
This was a little less indie, cast-wise, but was jarringly real in a way that Hollywood rarely fosters. The story is of a limply-functional family, whose good leg is dysfunctional, and of the way that their love for each other is solid, somewhere underneath the varying shades of crazy. This film. Oh, this film! I have never laughed harder, and at such true-to-life comedy--nothing silly or goofy or forced or fake about the lines. It felt more like watching a documentary (minus all the familiar faces) and every time the laughter became almost unbearable, a little dash of agony or melancholic sadness was thrown in, and spawned aching tears. I sigh still, thinking of how completely in control of my insides that cast, that writer, that director all were. They owned my ass, and I will love them forever for it.

I can't wait to see it again. Do NOT miss it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Film!!!, 6 Feb 2008
I love this film....it is such a heart warming story and the acting is fantastic, especially from Toni Collette and Steve Carell. The characters are all so different but work well together in their own weird way! I would definitely recommend Little Miss Sunshine if you like films with simple yet effective storylines and films that aren't quite so `Hollywood'.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, 8 Oct 2007
By 
M. Godenho "mg" (uk) - See all my reviews
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This is a funny entertaining film. Whilst it won't change your life, it may make your evening a little bit brighter.

This film reminded me of About Schmidt or Sideways. The characters have flaws and they're not perfect by any means. This only adds to the depth of the movie I believe. There are lots of family arguments and cringy moments that'll have you thinking "my family can be a bit like that"

But all in all it's a good film. Yeah I would watch it again. The tight script and fantastic acting is a credit to the makers and it's good to see a film like this one pick up a couple of Oscars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Are you gonna win?", 19 Aug 2007
By 
Sebastian Fernandez (Tampa, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
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This is one of the funniest movies I have seen in the last few years. This is the result of a combination of fascinating characters, great dialogues and outstanding performances by an all-star cast. On top of that, the final scene is so unexpected and hilarious that you will be rolling on the floor laughing.

Olive is a seven-year-old girl whose hobby is to compete in pageants. She spends a lot of time practicing her routine and watching recordings of the Miss America pageant and mimicking the gestures of the competitors. She has one of the most dysfunctional and peculiar families you can think of. Her father, Richard, has created a nine-step program to transform people into winners. He is trying to get a publisher for the book, "Refuse to Lose", and the economic future of the family depends on the success of this enterprise. Her mother, Sheryl, likes to be brutally honest, feeds her family chicken out of a bucket every night and hides her smoking habit. Sheryl also has to deal with the suicide attempt by her brother, uncle Frank. Olive's grandpa also lives with the family. The old man is Olive's coach and has a drug addiction. Finally, there is the brother, Dwayne, who has promised not to talk until he is accepted into the Air Force and who idolizes the German philosopher Nietzsche.

The dialogues are so good that it is unreal. For example, the honest approach of Sheryl led to a discussion during dinner in which Frank ended up explaining about his suicide attempt. But this carried further, since one of the reasons for it was being rejected by his male lover. Imagine the faces and comments of a seven-year-old when hearing about this! During this dinner, Olive finds out that the girl she lost to in the regional Little Miss Sunshine pageant has withdrawn from the finals. Now Olive has the chance to take her place and compete for the national title. The result is a road trip to California with the whole family in an old yellow van.

There are a variety of complications during the trip and we get so see how the different members of the family react to stress. Once again, the conversations are what drive the interest, and grandpa (Alan Arkin) stands out with his incomparable sarcasm. Arkin's is the best performance of the bunch, but the other members of the cast do not lag far behind. Greg Kinnear and Steve Carell play their roles convincingly, and Paul Dano really shows us how a conflicted teenager behaves. Abigail Breslin deservedly got an Oscar nomination for her performance, and she joins the group of outstanding kids in movies, like Elijah Wood, Macaulay Culkin and Ivana Baquero. If you want to have a good time and laugh for a while there are few options better than this one. Highly recommended!
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Little Miss Sunshine [Blu-ray]
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