Film Review: Little Miss Sunshine



   Little Miss Sunshine
is not a film which has aged terribly well – like leathery skin punished from too much exposure to the punctured O-zone layer, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ 2006 feature looks haggard and prematurely weathered, not a pretty sight, when observed at a detached distance from the over-positive critical reception it initially received.

   The film stars Abigail Breslin (in an incredibly insufferable performance) as Olive, a young girl who flippantly decides that her dream is to enter and win the pre-teen beauty pageant which gives the movie its title. For a variety of contrived reasons, the whole family decide to take the long, long journey to California in a clapped out VW and, as luck would have it, each of the characters are as eccentric as could only be imagined by the most desperate of screen-writers.

   Dad (Greg Kinnear) is a motivational speaker, Grandpa (Alan Arkin) behaves in an uncouth manner not expected of elderly people, Dwayne (Paul Dano) has taken a vow of silence, and Uncle Frank (Steve Carrell) is a gay Proust scholar. Toni Collette is also in the film; she plays a generic woman (it seems writer Michael Arndt had already exhausted his “big book of wacky character traits”).

   It becomes apparent, exhaustingly and transparently so, that the raison d’etre of the feature is to have characters act in bizarre and eccentric ways rather than trying to sculpt anything so sophisticated as a narrative or point to make. What are we to think of child beauty pageants by the time of the end credits? Dangerous, ludicrous or harmless fun? I ask this because no-one involved in Little Miss Sunshine has made any attempts to answer – instead, the climatic pageant is just another excuse for the family to parade their crass, eccentricity-by-committee actions in a final gratuitous assault on all things logical.

   Little Miss Sunshine is cowardly, mucilaginous, lily-livered, oleaginous and craven yet foolishly conceited, pompous, crass and boorish. A parody of what studio executives imagined an indie film should look like, failing entirely to understand the charm of a Wes Anderson movie, this cynical and hollow film represents everything wrong with cinema made with audience testing, rather than heart or ideas, at its core. A shallow embarrassment, the only people who emerge with credit from this film are Steve Carrell and Greg Kinnear who attempt to breathe life into an overstuffed, dead corpse of a feature – their efforts are as futile as giving CPR to taxidermy.
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5 comments

  1. I remember when this came out and it was raved and raved about, I thought it sounded boring!

    Danniella x | www.famousinjapan.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh it is!
      Seemed to have great hype... which died down very quickly!

      Delete
  2. I quite like Breslin, there's something about her that's interesting to me, but I did watch this film feeling utterly confused the entire way through. I think I was waiting for the good bit that everyone had been raving about and it never came...

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