Little Miss Sunshine – Dark, but Touching

Little Miss Sunshine – Dark, but Touching

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  1. Michael Arndt has recently been all over the news (well, entertainment news) because he has been given the job of writing Star Wars 7 under the new Disney/Lucasfilm banner.  Why him?  It goes all the way back to a low budget (8 million or so) dramedy called Little Miss Sunshine (directed by the team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris in 2006).  This film got Arndt his first Oscar nomination and win… and it was his first produced script.  Then, he scored the extrememly high-profile job of writing Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 (which got him another Oscar nomination).  Two scripts, two nominations, one win.  Now he has written the second installment in the epic, tentpole franchise, The Hunger Games.  Star Wars 7 is just the next logical step in a career of writing big time studio pictures.  So let’s take a look at where it all started, shall we?

    What is it about?

    Olive (Abigail Breslin) wants to be a beauty queen so badly, but she is plain looking… and she has a crazy family to deal with.  She has a father whose 9 step plan for success hasn’t been successful yet; a brother who has taken a vow of silence and hates everyone; a drug-addicted grandfather who has no problem speaking his mind (even if that speaking includes a slew of bad language); an uncle who just got out of the hospital and is on suicide watch; and a mother who is trying to keep them all together.  This crazy mixture of characters goes on a road trip to California so Olive can compete in a beauty pageant for young girls.  Chaos, drama, and laughs ensue.

    Is it any good?

    Now that you know a little about Michael Arndt then you probably realize that the writing is strong.  It’s funny, it’s original, and the characters are zany but believable (and very well-developed).  On top of that, the acting is superb.  Alan Arkin (the grandfather) won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and Abigail Breslin (Olive) was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.  Little Miss Sunshine also got nominated for Best Picture.  It can’t be too bad if it is up for Best Picture.

    The biggest problem I have with the film is that the father doesn’t start out likeable and doesn’t really become likeable.  He comes off as pathetic throughout the majority of the film and he’s supposed to be the head of the household.  It makes you wonder how the family has survived (even though they only barely have).  The grandfather actually gives the best fatherly advice throughout the film and he’s high for most of it.  That’s part of what makes it fresh, though.  So, if you haven’t seen it… then see it.  It’s good.

    Nolan’s Grade:  A

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    NOTE:  When you finally get to see her ‘act’ that she has been practicing throughout the film, it’s amazing.

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