Sunday, November 19, 2006
NEW RELEASES Little Miss Sunshine ****
Little Miss Sunshine is a short film. It is short and simple - the thousands of contrived complications necessary for Hollywod "family movie" plots do not exist here. The short time we spend watching this movie is short, sweet, beautiful and hilarious. In the tradition of classic comedies we are driven to laugh by subtle little gestures acted out of a fleshy script by a perfect cast. The Hoovers (Kinnear, Collette, Arkin, Breslin, and Dano) have just taken in suicidal Frank (Carell) , who is Mom Sheyrl's brother, before they decide to set off on a road trip to a beauty pageant in California that young Olive (Abigail Breslin) has won a spot in. But first, we are treated to a very long scene built entirely around dinner table conversation. We learn about some of the characters. The parents, Sheryl and Richard (Greg Kinnear) - Richard is teaching a completely unsucessful "12 steps to greatness" program. Sheryl tells her husband she doesn't smoke but does in private. Teenage Dwayne (Paul Dano) wants to join the Air Force and has taken a vow of silence (he makes his thoughts clear on a little notepad which Frank reads aloud with deadpan hilarity). Edwin (Alan Arkin), Richard's heroin addicted father, who is teaching Olive her dance routine for the pageant. And Olive, who watches videos of Miss California winning the state pageant over and over again, practicing putting her hands over her face just like Miss California does when she wins.
At the dinner table, Olive asks Frank why he tried to kill himself.
"Because I was unhappy..." Frank days ("He's sick, he's a sick man, he's sick in his head!" exclaims Richard, interrupting him)
"Why were you unhappy?"
"I fell in love with someone who didn't love me back. I was very much in love with him."
This registers on Olive's face:
"Him? Him? You fell in love with a boy?"
"Very much so."
"That's silly." Olive says with a victorious smile.
Anyone who can resist this film must have the Tin Man's disease. It is a sun-drenched, exhilarating ride and you may already miss the characters as soon as you walk out of the theater. It deserves to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.