Monday, October 30, 2006

Yet another first

In the interests of becoming a more well rounded person, I think it's time that I develop my writing skills to include more than academic writing. With that goal in mind, I present my first written movie review:

Title: Little Miss Sunshine
Starring: Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Steve Carrel & Co.
Director: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Rating: 8 Fingers out of 10

In "Little Miss Sunshine," Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris bring us the tale of young Olive Hoover, a budding young beauty(?) queen and her eccentric family. When 10 year old Olive wins the chance to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant in Redondo, California, she can't wait to have her chance to shine. Family circumstances being what they are, she is accompanied by her fledgling motivational speaker father, Richard (Greg Kinnear); her mother, Sheryl (Toni Collette) ; her Proust Scholar uncle Frank (Steve Carell); heroin addicted Grandpa (Alain Arkin); and monastic emo-kid brother, Dwayne (Paul Dano). The tension in the banana-yellow VW bus is more than enough to give us lots of laughs.

As I was watchting Little Miss Sunshine, I was actually reminded of Sideways, another dark 'road trip' type comedy. Like Sideways, Little Miss Sunshine keeps a good balance of levity and seriousness without straying too far into comedy cliche. By the end of the film, I felt drawn in to the life of the Hoover family. I really wanted Olive to win. If you want side-splitting laughs mixed in with explorations of Beauty, Self-image, and even Death, Little Miss Sunshine will give you all you want and more. Even if you just want a feel-good movie, Little Miss Sunshine will do it for you. I know I want to buy it when it comes out on DVD.

Stand Out Performances:

Paul Dano as Dwayne: I don't think many actors could successfully pull off a role that calls for silence for the first hour of a 101 minute movie. Dano's expressions of disappointment and anguish are done exceptionally well; teen angst comes naturally.

Abigail Breslin as Olive Hoover: For most of the film, I wasn't terribly impressed with Breslin's acting. Fortunately for her, the final 20 minutes of the film redeemed an otherwise pedestrian performance.

Steve Carell as Frank Hoover: Although I didn't really like Carell in the American version of "The Office," and have to confess that I haven't seen "The 40 Year Old Virgin," Carell he gives a stellar performance as the melancholy academic for whom nothing seems to be going right. From his failed suicide attempt to meeting his former love interest travelling with Frank's biggest competitor, Carell draws us into the sadness and hopelessness he feels.


Basically, if you haven't seen "Little Miss Sunshine," see it now.


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