Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
July 12, 2022 2:13 PM - Subscribe

The Hoover family -- an overworked mother (Toni Collette), her failed motivational speaker husband (Greg Kinnear), a depressed uncle (Steve Carell), a brother (Paul Dano) and a grandfather (Alan Arkin) -- puts the fun back in dysfunctional by piling into a VW bus and heading to California to support a daughter (Abigail Breslin) in her bid to win the Little Miss Sunshine Contest. The sanity of everyone involved is stretched to the limit as the group's quirks cause epic problems as they travel along their interstate route.

Written by Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Rated 91% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton.

Currently streaming in the US on HBO Max and available for digital rental on various outlets.
posted by DirtyOldTown (10 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have fond memories of this. Incredible cast--including Bryan Cranston as Kinnear's motivational guru (I didn't realize this until looking at the credits on Wikipedia, but Cranston's co-star on Breaking Bad, Dean Norris, is in it too)--and it was also the first time I'd seen Steve Carell in anything, which, given his prominence as Michael Scott, is something. I think that this might deserve a rewatch.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:35 PM on July 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

I think it says something great about Breslin and Dano when in a cast this stacked, the two youngest actors had the big star turns. Probably says something great about Dayton/Feris, too.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:39 PM on July 12, 2022 [6 favorites]

Ah, always a family favorite, and Mr. Blah likes to remind me that when we originally saw it I was laughing so hard at one point that he thought I was having trouble breathing.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:40 PM on July 12, 2022

Michael Ardnt, who won the Oscar for writing this, said in his acceptance speech that the movie was inspired by an event from his childhood where his family drove 600 miles in a VW bus with a broken clutch. It also took five years to make.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:46 PM on July 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

What I remember about this movie were the slices of regular family life, rather than all the quirkiness.

Like, if I'm remembering the scene right, they all went nuts trying to figure out how to get to the pageant and everyone started bickering over who was going and the various cars and configurations until they just bagged it all and decided everyone was going to go together in the temperamental van, because somehow that was the simplest solution.

I remember laughing, because that felt very lived in.

As a mom, I can't tell y'all how many times I've done the most exasperating thing because it's also the simplest solution.
posted by champers at 6:07 AM on July 13, 2022 [4 favorites]

Upon reflection, this film reminds me of Parenthood where you have various characters just coming to terms with the fact that shit happens right down to a hilarious performance by a child on stage being the climatic event. The circumstances of the film are exaggerated compared to parenthood(stealing a body for example) but the premise of just letting go and enjoying what's around you including your weird family is the same.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:49 AM on July 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

I saw this in the theater when it came out, with an old old friend I hadn't seen in a while. We chose it basically at random knowing nothing about it, and left saying it was the best movie ever and we both cried from laughing.
posted by potrzebie at 8:18 PM on July 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Olive's dance number is the fucking best.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:03 PM on July 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

I watched this on an airplane and nearly hurt myself holding in loud laughter. What a gem.

Weird question, though - does the mom have a character arc? I was thinking about how the uncle, the son, and the dad all have character arcs. I actually can't remember if the mom does.
posted by cadge at 7:21 AM on July 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

I feel like Sheryl was propping everyone up as best she could but was overwhelmed/overextended. Her payoff is that it's not all on her anymore, as well as her faith in this broken-ass family being somewhat rewarded when they come together.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:48 AM on July 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

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