Rating My Life

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Rating my life one post at a time….

Its movie time again !!

What happens when you stuff a failed motivation speaker, his wife, the nation’s number one Proust scholar, an elderly potty-mouthed heroin addict, a teen who’s mute by choice, and a bespectacled little pageant hopeful into a mini VW bus for a three day road trip? You get this hilarious but moving satire about a dysfunctional family obsessed with winning. Had a chance of watching this brilliant movie called LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE.

      Credit must go to the ensemble cast that includes Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Alan Arkin, and Abigail Breslin and the delightfully funny script by Michael Arndt, which first-time directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris handled perfectly.
It’s true that the family road trip comedy isn’t exactly a new genre; nor are quirky indie movies about dysfunctional families all that hard to come by. But somehow LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE manages to combine the two into something fresh, engaging, and often hysterically funny — with a dash of “aw shucks” poignancy to boot.

The Hoover family decides to make the trip from Albuquerque to Southern California after starry-eyed daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin) unexpectedly scores a spot in the regional Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. The whole clan — sunny Olive; anxious mom Sheryl (Toni Collette); aspiring motivational speaker dad Richard (Greg Kinnear); feisty, drug-using Grandpa (Alan Arkin); cynical teen Dwyane (Paul Dano); and gay, suicidal Proust scholar Uncle Frank (Steve Carell) — piles into their old yellow Volkswagen bus (which has become the movie’s signature image) and hits the road.

Naturally, that road is full of all kinds of obstacles — including car trouble, lots of bickering, and even an unexpected death. But in the process of working together to help Olive make it to the pageant, the Hoovers come to understand each other anew … or at least appreciate the fact that no one else could possibly understand them except each other.

Again, it’s nothing radically new in terms of storytelling or character development. But the film succeeds thanks to its excellent cast (husband-and-wife directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris lucked out, casting Carell just before he hit it really big with The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and funny, tight script. There aren’t any wasted moments in this movie; even the smallest action — Frank buying the dirty magazines, for example — turns out to matter down the line.

The big beauty pageant finish was pretty funny — which is pretty much how the Hoovers seem to approach life in general, so it all works out in the end.

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