Starring Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Abigail Breslin, Steve Carell, Paul Dano, etc.
Rated R, 101 minutes
Richard Hoover (Kinnear) is trying to market his “nine steps” to success...success Richard has yet to achieve. He is perhaps most militant in pushing these steps on his daughter Olive (Breslin) in her quest to win the “Little Miss Sunshine” pageant. A shock phone call sends the entire Hoover clan to Redondo Beach to compete, including stepson Dwayne, who’s taken a vow of silence; recently-released suicidal Uncle Frank; heroin snorting grandpa...
This movie is endearing and sweet without being syrupy. Most of the main characters are somewhat broken people as you can see. Watching Richard chide Olive in a way most annoying about her eating habits will have you angry, but the scene quickly switches to laughter. With all their problems, we can still feel for them and pull for them because frankly...who among us isn’t a “good” person without having some “bad” about us? I think that more than anything resonates after you see this movie. Also, this film pulled off character development rather nicely, growing right in front of you without feeling piled on.
Lots of good performances here. Dwayne, played by Paul Dano, is good both when he’s silent and speaking. Steve Carell turned in something outside of his supposed wheelhouse at the time. Greg Kinnear’s part isn’t the greatest, if only because of my personal pre-viewing hype. This movie was much lauded as a masterpiece and stuff, but when I got Greg Kinnear essentially being Greg Kinnear (the “Talk Soup” smarm, etc.) it turned me off at first. I love that tone and his performance, but it sort of removed me for a spell when I came in expecting a movie screaming Oscar-worthy (i.e. stuffy).
But what I got produced many hearty laughs indeed. It’s parts farcical, parts real…and a good dose entertaining.