Grandma's Tales

February 5, 2007

Did you watch Little Miss Sunshine?

Filed under: Movie — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 11:25 pm

I just had to write this.
Here is a movie that is sure to entertain almost everyone. Even a die-hard critic will find something to appreciate in it.
It’s about this troubled family of Richard, wife Sheryl, her brother Frank, Richard’s foul-mouthing, opinionated dad, the teenage son who has taken a vow of silence (Nietzsche’s influence) till he gets into the Air Force and the little girl Olive who is dying to get into a beauty contest. They all have their problems – the family sometimes looks completely dysfunctional.
And then, Olive is entered into the finals of a beauty pageant by default. The family’s finances won’t allow them to fly to the contest site 800 miles away. So they decide to drive down in a ramshackle van – a great prop. Murphy’s Law sets in, and things begin to burst at the seams. The VW van develops trouble and the family finds itself with a dead Grandpa. Yes, they do make it and Olive’s moment of glory brings them together as a family. Little Miss Sunshine (eponymous as it’s the name of the contest) turns out to be just that, bringing out the good in each one of them in her decision to go ahead and be herself on stage.
It may be a messed-up family, but you can identify with each one of the characters. There is Paul Dano as the troubled teen, Greg Kinnear (Richard) who is a positive- thinking guru, Toni Collette (Sheryl) the wife who patiently keeps things going, Alan Arkin the sarcastic Grandpa and Abigail Breslin (Olive) in her phenomenally done role as the happiest girl alive.
The best performance comes from Steve Carrell as uncle Frank. He is the top Proust scholar just recovered from a bout of depression. He stays unsmiling and dejected throughout, even when he is helping out the family. It’s extra-ordinary how he pulls off this beaten-man act even when he is delivering cutting one-liners.
The film is funny in parts. It can be dubbed as dark comedy. If you’re watching it on DVD, you’ll come across a lot of unintended humour in the closed captioning which, no doubt, was done by people not exactly known for scholarship in English. Sample this:
Little Miss Sunshine – worthless sunshine
I’ll go fetch him for dinner – I’ll go Frenchmen for dinner th-05088.jpg
seed money – sin money
Ah, well – far well
The movie has a number of continuity goof-ups. It’s fun if you’re looking out for them.
But watch LMS for its wonderful little story. The family rallying together to see the little girl through her big day. Watch it for the alternating light and dark situations. For the fine performances. And above all for Olive Hoover, who revels in the joy of the moment. She is going to be herself, it doesn’s matter what the others are. She’s going to make the best of what she’s been handed. Her happiness is contagious. Way to go!



  1. Geeta,

    It’s been a while since I send in a comment. 12 hour work days and a bit of travel on the side doesn’t help.

    I loved Little Miss Sunshine. I am a little surprised about your comment on quality of closed captioning. I watched it with the subtitles (a practice built on experience of not understanding the crucial plot points in movies where the accent is too strong – case in point Snatch) and I didn’t find any such issue. So what’s my point? Simple – is your neighbourhood DVD store supplying you with pirated version by any chance?


    p.s: Went through all your posts since I last visited. Missing your grammar lessons! Though I must admit you have all the right to write on what catches your fancy.

    Comment by Subrat — February 12, 2007 @ 8:31 pm | Reply

  2. Hi Subrat,
    Wonderful to have you back here. You hit the nail on its head about the DVD carrying a pirated edition of the movie. I watched Borat this weekend with the same result. I was laughing at the captions and not at the comedy(?). I need to have a conversation with the video guy.
    About Grammar, yes, you’ll find one today. But did you take the Headlines quiz?

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — February 12, 2007 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

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