By Fred Topel | Image property of Fox Searchlight.
Little Miss Sunshine Poster
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what works
about Little Miss
Sunshine. It’s not necessarily laugh-a-minute, though
it’s plenty funny. It’s not necessarily a high concept with
big set pieces, though it milks the situation fully. It’s not even
a vehicle for distinct comedic personalities, though everyone shines in
Little Miss Sunshine Review
Most of the comedy is in the looks and the little gestures. Steve Carell
bugging his eyes out as the only sign of emotion in his depressed character,
Paul Dano as the silent son who ONLY communicates with dirty looks and Alan
Arkin’s immature paper flicking all say way more than a snappy one-liner.
The characters are wonderful. Each one does have a unique personality but
it’s not like they’re trying to be memorable caricatures. Abigail
Breslin is the most adorable little girl you’ve ever seen on film,
running around packing with her big, toothy smile. There’s no obnoxious
The depressed brother acts like somebody going through that crisis. Seeing
Steve Carell gradually come to live throughout the film is a journey you
genuinely root for. The motivational speaker father is just enough of an
A-hole to make you believe that he believes his own nonsense. The silent
teenager is just mopey enough to make the point but subtle enough that it’s
never about “look, he’s still not talking!”
A profane grandpa is funny. It just is. He’s totally committed to
the logical and real, only it’s about dirty stuff, and probably decent
advice if you must know.
All of this information comes out without feeling
like “now we’re going to explain what’s wrong with this
guy.” It’s exposition as funny dinner conversation. Families
really would have to address it, but it wouldn’t be productive. It
would be awkward and uncomfortable, like it is in the film.
The film’s life lessons are real and valid, not overbearing. What
defines a loser is kind of important in real life success, as the father
clearly has no handle on it. The focus is on the dysfunctional comedy, peppered
Serious moments don’t come out of the blue. They’re set up in
the plot and the tone so it’s not manipulating you just for a tear
jerk. It’s the dark humor of reality, in which tragedy can occur and
you still have to make do.
Make no mistake. Little Miss Sunshine is not some indie
movie full of pop culture and messages. It’s a regular old movie about
kooky people forced together for a somewhat silly goal. But a studio would
probably try to smooth out the edges and it’s the roughness of it
that makes it all work.