i love toni collette, but little miss sunshine disappointed. ok, a bit harsh. i wasn’t totally disappointed, i just felt that the film could have done more. it’s a story about a disfunctional family doing on a road trip in their kombi van that is as disfunctional as they are, and all in the name of getting their daughter olive (abigail breslin) into the finals of the little miss sunshine beauty pageant.
collette plays sheryl hoover, a stressed, over-worked and tired-looking mother. so the character benefits tremendously from collette’s well-known bored look.
the father, richard (greg kinnear) attempts to live up to his “to-to-be-a-winner” expectations while he manicly attempts to on-sell his motivational nine-step technique to be a winner. kinnear’strademark quasi-angry, sarcastic yelling (think edward scissorhands (1990)) rounds this character off nicely.
olive is sickening, candy-floss sweet girl gone ga-ga over being shortlisted for the pagent. but she by no means pretty. i actually think she would take the cake for the ugliest girl in a film. breslin is no dakota fanning but her portrayal of a no-cares-in-the-world, slightly oblivious young girl is convincing. i wonder how much of that is actually acting?
dwayne (paul dano) was annoying. he played the angsty teen taken his nietzsche-reading too far in a vow of silence in support of his ambition to joing the air force academy in order to become a test pilot. he played boy angst so well and so acurately i wanted to poke my eye out. although i did like a lot of dwayne’s shirts in the film. the first one we see him in film has the face of big brother in the earliest adaptation of george orwell’s 1984.
and then there’s the nursing-home evictee grandfather edwin (alan arkin) who is a crack addict vietanam veteran with little more to his personality than that.
but the character i did find interesting was sheryl’s brother, frank (steve carell in not-always-funny-role) a gay proust scholar recovering from a failed suicide attempt. he was one of the most bland, unassuming characters but with an amazing wit behind him.
i just couldn’t get into little miss sunshine. the number of crazy characters and the movies continuous attempts to reinforce its own quirks – death, the destruction of dreams, parental pressure and a car that keeps breaking down are just a few – make the film unreachable. a hyper-reality world where all things DO go wrong. and as a result i was a little detached from it.
the family seemed a little too disfunctional. the narrative a little hard to believe. and it drags on for the first three quaters of the film.
that said, the last quater of the film is quite funny. and the film does have an interesting take on the modern academia, veteran affairs and child beauty shows though.