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Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 286,533 users   Metascore: 80/100
Reviews: 865 user | 265 critic | 36 from Metacritic.com

A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus.

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Won 2 Oscars. Another 65 wins & 67 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Doctor #1
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Mechanic
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Convenience Store Proprietor
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Teen Boy #1
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Stan Grossman
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A family on the verge of a breakdown See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some sex and drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 August 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pequeña Miss Sunshine  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$665,165 (Australia) (13 October 2006)

Gross:

$59,889,948 (USA) (23 March 2007)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Marc Turtletaub and his fellow producers bought the script for $250,000. See more »

Goofs

In the beginning of the movie as they head out to LA, the highway marker says East I10. They should be going on West I10. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Richard: There are two kinds of people in this world, winners and losers.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in 10 pelis (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Change the World
Written by Jon Ehrlich
Performed by Jon Ehrlich
Courtesy of Jeco Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A little sweet sweetness…Little Miss Sunshine
20 August 2006 | by (buffalo, ny, usa) – See all my reviews

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 film—it wears its indie cred on its sleeve—it is still accessible and hopefully with the drawing power of Carrell will garner an audience that would not otherwise see it.


165 of 253 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Why did Dwayne have to go on the trip? JumeirahSun
Were those REAL pageant girls? TheKonrad821
Why was Olive in a fat suit? UltimaGabe
I didn't laugh once?!? spacker_boy
Strangest Movie I Have Ever Seen Paul2614
Did this film make you cry? kissme-12
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