Watch this movie and you'll see why it is one of the year's best.
It'd have been nice if my friends at Fox had sent me a DVD with more features and proper packaging.
Little Miss Sunshine tells the tale of family on a cross country trip with destiny. When Olive (Abigail Breslin) gets a chance to win the the Little Miss Sunshine ty pageant in California, her family has got to somehow figure out a way to get her there. Circumstances stands play out so that her parents Richard and Sheryl (Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette) have to both go with her, and because of that her brother Dwayne (Paul Dano), uncle Frank (Steve Carell), and Grandpa (Alan Arkin) all have to come along for the ride. Things would already be a little strange with this family, but considering how Dwayne isn't talking until he achieves his goal of getting in the Air Force (the only misstep for this character in this otherwise solid script), Frank recently tried to kill himself, Grandpa has a foul mouth, and Olive's parents are so different they're at odds on how to raise her, we get many laughs but none of the fluffy, heartfelt moments that usually accompany such movies (indy or otherwise).
Eventually the family gets to the pageant but not after they come together in the most unexpected ways. In the end, nothing is perfect, nothing is really resolved, the characters don't overcome much, but there is hope that maybe they will. Even if they don't, what is important as that they are a family who has one another.
This features the directors of the project, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, as well as the film's screenwriter Michael Arndt. They seem to be enjoying themselves here as they talk about not having many titles to open the movie, how the comedy in the film comes from the different characters, getting the music for the project, etc.. As this track goes on they then move into such areas as the Alan Arkin character of Grandpa, the arc of Greg Kinnear's character, and the beauty pageant after which this movie is named. All in all I found this track both insightful and interesting, even though I didn't feel like I learned that much more than I already knew after I saw the film.
4 Alternate Endings with Optional Commentary by Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Sadly, Fox did not send me a DVD which contained these endings. I would have liked to have seen them, but ultimately I can't think of this movie ending any better than it did already.
Full Screen. For a film like this having it in widescreen isn't that imperative. Little Miss Sunshine is essentially a dialogue film so we don't need amazing photography. In fact, even though this movie is a road trip, it really is contained to the VW bus with which this family is traveling across the country. That said, the dialogue scenes aren't such that this movie feels claustrophobic, and they do move it out of the bus but only into other contained areas like restaurants and hotel rooms.
Since I got a burned copy of this DVD in a white envelope, I really can't tell you what kind of sound was employed. However, this being a movie that is dependent on characters and dialogue, I didn't miss much in regards to the audio this disc was offering. I was able to hear everything that was being said just fine and I don't even recall having to turn up my television set too much. When you consider that a lot of this film takes place in a car, and they had to add audio to further give off that impression, I think this DVD should be praised for sounding as real as it does.
As I mentioned above, I sadly didn't get any packaging with the release of this movie. The fact that I still loved it as much as I did, even though I wasn't given the final product, should tell you something right there about just how great Little Miss Sunshine is.
I avoided going to see Little Miss Sunshine in the theater because this was one of those movies where, when everyone is telling you how great it is, you know that it can't be that good.
Well, I was wrong.
Little Miss Sunshine is pretty much a flawless film. There are plenty of laughs, spot on humor, and the kind of exchanges and realism that is often missing from even the indiest of independent films. My only problem with this movie was with the Dwayne character. He was played to perfection by Paul Dano. However, why was his goal to join the Air Force? A character like that might have many goals, but joining the military wouldn't be one of them. In fact, I could see a character that aloof having quite a degree of contempt for the military.
As I stated above, I think that Little Miss Sunshine is one of the best movies of 2006, it deserves all the awards and accolades that it is getting. If you are like me and you missed it in theaters, now is your chance to see this great film.