I remember the year Little Miss Sunshine came out (2006). I was much younger then, and couldn’t possibly have appreciated any of the subtleties of the film. For this reason, I re-watched a few years ago and instantly fell in love. However, it was not until I watched this movie again last night that I felt the need to really express my love for it. I understand that to some, watching a movie twice, let alone 3 times, is believed to be something only crazy people would do, but I firmly believe that the fact that I was able to do so with Little Miss Sunshine – not only that, but to love it more with each viewing – is a testament to its merit as a film.
So what is this movie? And why is this unknown internet nerd singing its praise? Little Miss Sunshine follows the Hoover family as they hop in their adorable, unreliable VW bus to get their young daughter, Olive (Abigail Breslin) to a beauty contest. The dysfunctional family consists of such fine actors as Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Alan Arkin, and Paul Dano.
This movie excels in so many ways. Helmed expertly by directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Little Miss Sunshine offers to its viewers a blend of phenomenal acting, expert, witty writing, brilliant cinematography, and a great score to boot.
For a movie like this to be successful, it requires an excellent performance from everyone involved in its making. The writing of this movie is truly genial. Writer Michael Arndt was nominated for and won an Oscar for his writing in this movie. Both witty and sentimental, the dialogue in Little Miss Sunshine felt like genuine, emotional interaction. The story that is woven in this film is interesting, amusing, heartwarming, and emotionally riveting all at once. The movie opens on such a dark tone, and that tone is sustained throughout the whole film, to the point where even the sweetest parts of the film are bittersweet – which is not something I say negatively. Above all, the writing felt real.
However, an expertly written script is useless without actors of the same caliber to perform it. With almost all the actor demonstrating their range of abilities, it is hard to select a favorite performance. One that stands out, however, is Steve Carell’s. His performance, although not necessarily better than others in the movie, was the most surprising, especially considering the comedians 2006 track record. Another performance that stood out is that of Olive Hoover, played by Abigail Breslin (who later starred in Zombieland, My Sister’s Keeper, Rango, and a whole lot more).
It is so rare that a child actor’s performance can affect me as much as Breslin’s did in Little Miss Sunshine. Hearing adorable little Olive ask her grandfather if she’s pretty, tears running down her face, made my eyes well up with man-tears to a degree that not many performances could. That scene, as well as the film in its entirety, was made that much better by the incredible (albeit unsurprisingly so) performance by Alan Arkin, who also took home an Oscar for his work in this film.
All in all, Little Miss Sunshine is definitely a movie I would list as one of my favorites. It is something that I know I will go back to every few years, and get something new out of it each time. All aspects of this film come together perfectly.
If you have yet to see this movie, be thankful that you get to experience it for the first time, then do so.