Wednesday, September 06, 2006

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE - more than just a brilliant black comedy

This review is posted by Nik, who can normally be found here:

I didn't think I'd enjoy this film, it sounded hackney'd. In fact, it sounded as hackney'd as a Hackney Cab, driving through Hackney, with a driver saying "wot about dem blacks - facking immigrints". A dysfunctional family goes on an impromptu roadtrip together to find themselves. Fuck me, why not just throw in Hugh Grant and make it a Rom Com? Can't Hollywood formulate something original?

Add to that the fact that Alan Arkin, Toni Colette, Steve Carrell and Greg Kinnear aren't exactly B-movie actors - and you have the potential for a sickeningly sweet, all-American flop of a movie. Suffice to say, despite the rave reviews at Sundance '06, I wasn't expecting to enjoy it much. I certainly couldn't have hoped to enjoy it as much as I did.

But I'm happy to say that LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE was just a great great movie - yet another triumph in the Bina-recommended Hall of Fame. Combine just some absolutely wonderful acting performances, especially the astonishing child part (Olive) played by Abigail Breslin - with a hilarious script - with some gripping insight into the American way of life - and you have the ingredients for a movie that will captivate you and keep you totally spellbound throughout.

I laughed all the way through - not sniggers or giggles - but hearty laughs that made my throat dry. Don't be fooled though - this isn't just a comedy. Far from it - it manages to capture the ridiculousness of life's tragedies - the emptiness of corporate America - the grotesqueness of the beauty pageant - the love of a sibling - the tenderness of a family. And it's as biting as it is funny. As well as that, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE really is a beautifully shot and beautifully made film - and although it doesn't claim any particularly deep insight about the world, or to have discovered anything new cinematographically - it is nevertheless a deeply satisfying and complete viewing experience.

I don't want to give away any of the plot in this review - this is a plot based film, one that I would almost be retiscent to buy on DVD for fear that it wouldn't be as good the fifth time - so you're just going to have to find out for yourselves. All I can say is that you won't regret it - even if you disagree with its insights, even if you cannot empathise with the situations the characters find themselves in - you'll surely enjoy the comedy, and even if you're humourless, you'll be able to sit back and admire the sheer quality of the acting and the script.

Take £10 from the cash machine, buy some popcorn, and go see this film with the rest of the change. Or if you live in London, take £20 out, and then follow the rest of the instructions.

And this from Bina007: I disagree that this is a beautifully made or shot film. It looks as cheap as it is. But, my god this is a funny movie and it has real balls too. Kudos to first-time feature writer and directors Michael Arndt, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Kudos too to all the cast, not least Paul Dano. He plays the brother in the family and gives an outstanding comic and dramatic performance despite the fact he doesn't speak for a lot of the movie. Like Nik said, go see it today!

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE is currently on release in the US and France and opens in the UK on Friday. It opens in Italy on Sep 22nd, Finland on Sep 29th, Belgium on Oct 11th, Argentina & Australia on Oct 12th, Spain & Brazil on Oct 20th, Netherlands on Oct 26th and in Germany on Nov 30th.


  1. I think it was wonderfully shot - cheap yes - nasty no! I loved the shots of the family running into the minivan for example - I liked the stills in the minivan and the angles that were captured etc.

    Yes, it was cheap, it wasn't pretty, but it was nicely shot.

  2. It's not about framing the action - that's good direction. An example of bad photography. There is a scene where some characters go to see another character in hospital. As they enter the curtain around the bed the colour is rosy and nice, like the rest of the film. Once inside the curtain, we are in a different shot and the colour has completely changed to a sort of washed out blue tone. That's just sloppy - and jarred.