Little Miss Sunshine works well as a drama, but the comedy doesn’t appear until the very end of the movie. I had expected Little Miss Sunshine to be more of a comedy and its disappoints if laughs are what your looking for, but it is a good drama with great acting.
This movie is about a slightly dysfunctional family from Albuquerque. The children’s uncle just tried to commit suicide, the grandfather was kicked out of his retirement community for heroin use and the father is spending all of his time trying to sell his idea for a book (which is not going well). The main story is about the little girl in the family, Olive (Abigail Breslin). Her dream is to be in a beauty pageant. Within the first few scenes we find out that Olive has been accepted into the ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ beauty pageant for children. The rest of the movie depicts the entire family traveling from Albuquerque to Redondo Beach in an old yellow VW for the pageant.
The comedy in Little Miss Sunshine is subtle but there is some, particularly in the last few scenes. Throughout the entire film there are lines which are funny, funny enough for a chuckle, but not a head-rolling howl. For example, the grandfather preaches to the son about how important women are, and that he should have lots of sex in his life. When the father says ‘hey’, the grandfather replies something about him still having Nazi bullets in his skull. Most of the other jokes are darker, but can be funny if you’re in the right mood for it.
The acting is perhaps the best part of Little Miss Sunshine. The father (Greg Kinnear) is an annoying character, but the acting is still good. Olive is cute and Abigail Breslin is perfect for the role of the innocent little girl. The brother Dwayne (Paul Dano) is strange as he doesn’t speak for most of the movie, but once he opens his mouth his scenes are quite powerful. The mother Sheryl (Toni Collette) is good, so is Steve Carrel as Uncle Frank. However, the best performance is arguably that of Alan Arkin as Grandpa, his performance his funny and full of satire. Arkin now has the Oscar trophy to prove that he did a great job on this film.
Little Miss Sunshine is a dark comedy with a happy ending. The great acting is very believable and the cast has great chemistry. The story itself is pretty good and the script was well written. If you feel like a dramatic movie with the occasional laugh, you know, Sundance Film Festival kind of movies, then I would recommend Little Miss Sunshine. If you prefer comedies like The Hangover, then you probably wouldn’t like this film.