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
Five identical Volkswagen Type 2s were used during filming. See more »
The distinctive logo on the menus suggests that the family is eating breakfast at Pann's, a famous coffee shop within ten miles of the beauty pageant in Redondo Beach - yet somehow, it takes the family eight hours to get there. In actual fact, the restaurant scenes were shot with borrowed Pann's menus in Dinah's, a restaurant located across the road from where the pageant scenes were shot in the Culver City Radisson. 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.
A highly enjoyable ensemble road movie - funny stuff
I saw Little Miss Sunshine a week ago at the Sydney Film Festival, and the audience I saw it with loved it. There was a lot of laughter going on - especially at the hilarious ending. And amidst the jokes it deals smartly with it's theme of the value of chasing your dreams and being one of life's 'winners' versus valuing what you already have. Or put another way, it celebrates the joys of losing in a culture obsessed with winning.
I'm not going to go into detail about the plot, as the film hasn't been widely released yet. There are no huge plots twists, but I think you'll have more fun with this film if you don't know exactly where it's going.
As the film started I wasn't so sure about it. All the characters (apart from Toni Colette's perhaps) seemed to be written as being amusingly quirky in a predictable indie-comedy way. But as the movie went on it became easier to warm to them. I think it helped that the actors appeared to be having genuine fun together. These guys don't feel like much of a family at first, and I wondered a couple of times why these people would bother sticking together, but as things progress the strengths of this particular family unit become obvious. And just as all comedies should, it gets funnier as it goes on. I was pleased to see the script stayed true to it's messages all the way to the end, and didn't turn preachy or maudlin. The whole cast work excellently together, and I hope this film has all the success it deserves once it's released.
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