Little Miss Sunshine
Why can’t you just use the handle like everyone else?


Golden Mug

NOMINEE: Original Screenplay (Michael Arndt)

Theatrical Release Date: 07/26/2006
Directors: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
Cast: Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, Toni Collette, Steve Carell

Where, oh where, do I start reviewing a film like “Little Miss Sunshine”?

This is one of those small independent films that took years to make, as the filmmakers had to scrounge for every penny they could find just to complete production. And audiences should be thanking their lucky stars that money was found.

There was a considerable amount of buzz around this film following its tremendous success at Sundance. To my knowledge, the bidding war to obtain the distribution rights ended up crowing “Little Miss Sunshine” as the film with the highest purchase price from the Sundance Film Festival ever to date at $10.5 million dollars.

Why would this little film garner so much attention?

First, there is a wonderful script by Michael Arndt. Then there is the great coordination by directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who assembled all of the right pieces when making this film.

And perhaps most responsible are the tremendous performances by well-known actors who took a chance and made this film without knowing where it would end up.

The story centers on a dysfunctional family who undertake an interstate road trip together. There is much more to it but I don’t want to ruin a thing.

Feel free to get up from your chair and go see this movie. You can always come back and read this later.

… What? Still here? Okay, fine. On with the review.

The family is portrayed by Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, Toni Collette and Steve Carell. Excellent actors all around and all of them give amazing performances. Singling one out is nearly impossible. Arkin was probably given the best lines to say but each actor is given so much to work with and do on screen that it’s hard to say that any one person stole the film.

Adding to that acting talent are some excellent supporting and bit roles by Bryan Cranston, Beth Grant, Wallace Langham, Matt Winston and Mary Lynn Rajskub. Super attentive film fans may recognize these folks from their respective film and TV careers.

While the family is the center of the story, these other actors as well as everyone else involved, helped create the unified front that carries “Little Miss Sunshine” past the rest of the pack.

I could sit here and write paragraph after paragraph about each of the scenes, how they were hilarious, poignant, heartbreaking and joyous all at the same time. But that would be a disservice to anyone who hasn’t seen the film.

“Little Miss Sunshine” is going to easily factor into my top films of the year and I was almost too busy heaping praise on the film once the credits rolled to motion to my friend that this film was getting a 5 out of 5.

I’m happy that the film is not exclusively on the art house circuit because if there is one film being shown on a movie screen right now that I would recommend, it is “Little Miss Sunshine”.

If you don’t like this film, do the world a favor and swallow a bullet. It’s just too damn funny, too damn heartwarming and too damn good.