After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.
David O. Russell
Robert De Niro
Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, but is later sued by two brothers who claimed he stole their idea, and the co-founder who was later squeezed out of the business.
In Albuquerque, Sheryl Hoover brings her suicidal brother Frank to the breast of her dysfunctional and emotionally bankrupted family. Frank is homosexual, an expert in Proust. He tried to commit suicide when he was rejected by his boyfriend and his great competitor became renowned and recognized as number one in the field of Proust. Sheryl's husband Richard is unsuccessfully trying to sell his self-help and self-improvement technique using nine steps to reach success, but he is actually a complete loser. Her son Dwayne has taken a vow of silence as a follower of Nietzsche and aims to be a jet pilot. Dwayne's grandfather Edwin was sent away from the institution for elders (Sunset Manor) and is addicted in heroin. When her seven-year-old daughter Olive has a chance to dispute the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in Redondo Beach, California, the whole family travels together in their old Volkswagen Type 2 (Kombi) in a funny journey of hope of winning the talent contest and to make a dream ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Keeping up with the recent buzz-worthy films coming out of Sundance the
past couple years, Little Miss Sunshine is a gem of a movie. After
loving crowd favorites Primer (2004) and Hustle and Flow (2005), I
wasn't quite sure if the hat trick would be made. Sunshine seemed to
have the cast, and direction (the debut of husband/wife team Valerie
Faris and Jonathan Dayton, who have helmed some of my favorite music
videos including the Smashing Pumpkins' Tonight, Tonight and the Red
Hot Chili Peppers' Otherside), but the big question would be if it had
the laughs to sustain the quirky indie comedy from not being
overwrought and boring. While the film definitely has a couple moments
where I was about to be lost, everything ends up happening for a
reason; emotions are on a roller coaster ride and the lows always come
out with meaning and momentum for the highs. Do yourself a favor and
see this sweet, subtle at times and gut-bustingly hilarious at others,
perfectly pitched ensemble piece.
The co-directors set us up for what is to come in a very nicely
designed opening sequence by going character to character, showing us
each person in a small vignette of their personalities. This is the
quintessential messed-up family with good intentions. Mom and Dad are
bickering on how to tell their young daughter about her uncle's
attempted suicide, while he sits and stares in a strange melancholy
next to the mute, troubled son, (on vow of silence in honor of
nihilistic mind Nietzsche), while grandpa spews profanities about the
lack of dinner variety. I mean this is the epitome of every family
function I've ever been privy to. There is so much a viewer can relate
to in each member, allowing for a certain amount of compassion for the
views of all involved and seeing that each really does want the best
for one another, even if they have a messed up way of showing it.
Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette are wonderful as the patriarchs, proving
as always that they are probably two of the most under-appreciated
actors working today. Very rarely do you get to see them in a starring
vehicle, and even though this is an ensemble through and through, they
definitely carry it as the driving force. Alan Arkin does his kooky,
quasi-angry, sarcastic yelling that he is known for, kind of his role
from Edward Scissorhands but r-rated and un- pc. Everything he has done
comes to a surprising result at the eponymous beauty pageant for the
biggest laughs of the movie, really great stuff subverting the
grotesque surrealism surrounding any pageant of this kind. Paul Dano is
great as the troubled teen, trying to find a place in the world for
himself, and coming to grips with the need for struggle in order to
grow as a person, and Abigail Breslin is phenomenal as the happiest
girl alive. Once she finds out she has won her regional on default,
(those primary school children and their diet pills), she is on cloud
nine as the family makes the road trip all for her. She has the acting
range of a pro and actually does the Dakota Fanning, but better, as she
can act while still being a young child and not an adult in a child's
body. Her emotional reactions are spot-on and she has remarkable
presence and a self-effacing nature that allows her to be who she is
and not be ashamed about it, which is the main purpose of Olive Hoover.
The real revelation to take from the antics on screen is a career-role
for funnyman Steve Carrell. I've always liked his naïve, teddy-bear
persona used to successfully in the Daily Show, The Office, and as the
only funny part of Anchorman. Here however, he shows that he has the
acting chops to not be pigeonholed and typecast in the over-the-top,
lug roles his peer Will Ferrell will never be able to breakout of.
Carrell has genuine talent and his suicidal, top Proust scholar in
America, uncle is the shining moment of the film. He maintains the
dejected quality throughout; even when doing something for the family,
doing good, he is always a beaten man. That kind of character is what
is needed for all his sharp, dry sarcastic retorts thrown about. He
barely outshines the prop of the year, though, the family's yellow VW
van. You will not see better prop-gags as the van takes a licking and
keeps on ticking although the tick is faint and slowly fading away.
Little Miss Sunshine lives up to the strong buzz that surrounds it. It
is heartwarming and funny at every turn. There are some dark moments,
though, as there are in life. This film is a slice of reality,
heightened just the right amount, for all to enjoy. While definitely in
the vein of films such as I Heart Huckabees, Thumbsucker, and any Wes
Anderson filmit wears its indie cred on its sleeveit is still
accessible and hopefully with the drawing power of Carrell will garner
an audience that would not otherwise see it.
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