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
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
Ray Romano was originally in talks to play the father, but Greg Kinnear was ultimately cast. See more »
At one point, the van travels south on I-17 and passes the exit for Carefree Highway (AZ-74), some thirty miles north of Phoenix. A short time later, the van is shown passing through Flagstaff, over 140 miles north of Phoenix. See more »
There are two kinds of people in this world, winners and losers.
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The DVD contains four alternate endings:
Alternate Ending # 1 had the family stop at a rest stop the next day as they're driving back home. Richard talks fondly about Grandpa, and then the family toasts to his memory. You actually can't hear the dialogue, since the only audio option is for the director's commentary on this ending. Basically, the filmmakers thought that it was too sappy (since it was too sunny during the scene) and so they stopped filming.
Alternate Ending #2 had the family handcuffed at the security office at the hotel. The security guard tells them that Olive is disqualified from the competition and that they are released, under the condition that they are banned from entering beauty pageants in California again. He releases the family members, and they start to walk out of the lobby. Sheryl places a crown on Richard's head, who in turn places it on Olive's head. As they exit the hotel, Richard asks "who wants ice cream?"
Alternate Ending #3 had Olive running out into the lobby of the hotel, acting as a lookout, as you can hear everyone else arguing off-screen about stealing the trophy. She signals that the coast is clear, and so the others run out of the hotel carrying the trophy (while Frank wears the crown).
Alternate Ending #4 is the same as #3, but it's extended. Title cards detail the family stealing the trophy from the room, running down the hall, running out of the hotel, running into the van, and driving off.
Here is a film that lives up to the expectations of a very funny trailer. It's an oddball comedy, and it's dark, and it's funny, and it's touching, and it will charm the pants off many in the audience. Here is a simple story in which our lovely contestant and her family try to find their way to California so that she can prove to the world she is not a loser! The premise itself can lead to years of therapy for a family that should get a group rate in psychiatric care.
Expert editing and superb comedic performances from all the principals involved will have many overlook the fact that the plot line is a little too contrived at times. The set pieces will have the audience howling with laughter as we see different characters trying to overcome some pretty irreverent obstacles. The scene at the gas station contains moments of deep sadness and offbeat humor, something that Carrell pulls off wonderfully, and none will be able to look at the trunk of a car, some dubious literary material, and highway patrol the same way after seeing the infamous scene in the film.
The best is of course, saved for last, and by this time we are waiting for something outrageous which "Little Miss Sunshine" delivers unapologetically. A classic track will probably be recharged for a new generation, as the bonds of family precariously balance a moment that could be as tacky as they come.
"Sunshine" is one of the best things to come out of American cinema this year, an original film that relies on a script that understands the differences between generations in the same family. It doesn't explain why each character is as quirky as can be, and it doesn't build much background because it is not needed to make the film work. Kinnear, Colette, Abigail, Arkin, and Correll are a fine team and keep the film's feel fresh throughout the film. Here is a family that has no special qualities or powers, a family that will make us rejoice that creativity is still alive in Hollywood, a film that will provide us with plenty of much needed sunshine in an otherwise pretty dull summer.
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