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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Movie Review

    Little Miss Sunshine plays like a cross between Arrested Development and Drop Dead Gorgeous, except without the fast-paced inside jokes and dim-witted comic reliefs. Well, it does have Steve Carell...
    Little Miss Sunshine plays like a cross between ‘Arrested Development’ and ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous,’ except without the fast-paced inside jokes and dim-witted comic reliefs. Well, it does have Steve Carell…

    “”There are two kinds of people: winners and losers,”” says Richard (Greg Kinnear), head of the Hoover family, as the tag line to his nine-step program for success. If the movie “”Little Miss Sunshine”” was part of his program, it would definitely be a winner.

    The Hoover family is a bunch of disjointed people who barely know how to interact with each other at the dinner table. Besides Richard, there’s the continuously frazzled mother (Toni Collette), the emo son (Paul Dano) who has taken a vow of silence, the suicidal brother (Steve Carell), whose gay lover ran off with the number two Proust scholar, and the crazy grandfather (Alan Arkin) who’s so old he feels he’s earned the right to do drugs like heroin whenever he wants.

    Forced into taking a road trip across the country together when the 7-year-old daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin) wins a spot in the “”Little Miss Sunshine”” beauty pageant, they pile into an old yellow VW Bus that’s simmering with tension.

    Traveling long distances with anyone is not a fun deal, and being trapped with people you don’t especially love brings out the frustrations like nothing else. Despite many obstacles (like the bus breaking and forgetting Olive at a gas station), the Hoovers try to keep it together in order to make it to the pageant in time.

    Unlike how most movies about a family stuck together would have gone (see “”RV””), each member of the family is not upbeat and happy by the end. They won’t return home after the trip wanting to spend hours upon hours with each other happily playing board games and watching Disney movies together. They’re not necessarily better people for having taken the trip.

    The script isn’t trying to wax poetic on the way families should be; it takes a down-to-earth view on the way families actually are. This allows the film to be much more palatable because of its unpredictability.

    “”Little Miss Sunshine”” also stands out from recent comedies in the way that it juxtaposes the darker elements with the more upbeat. The fake happiness of the beauty pageant is off-puttingly surrounded by the theme of loss and the depression of the main characters. Even the zingers traded back and forth in anger during the road trip have a blacker note than what’s on the surface. With actors like Carell, they could have made this comedy more over the top, but by calling for a more tempered approach from everyone, it hits your heart and makes you cry from laughing so hard at the same time. This approach toward the outlandish situations that the family is put through makes them much more awkward and hilarious to watch.

    Now that “”Little Miss Sunshine”” is actually in theaters nearby, it’s up to you if you want to listen to all the hype surrounding the little indie that could. If the hype isn’t enough to drag you to check it out, here’s one thing that will: a surprise appearance by the song “”Superfreak,”” complete with dance moves. Enough said.

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