Writer: Michael Arndt
Composers: Mychael Danna, DeVotchKa
Starring: Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Dean Norris
More info: IMDb
Tagline: Where's Olive?
Plot: When 7 year-old Olive Hoover learns that she's qualified for the the little Miss Sunshine contest the entire family sets off in their VW camper van for the trip from Albuquerque to California. The family includes her reasonably sane mother Sheryl; her father Richard, a motivational speaker who is stressing over whether his book will be published; her brother Dwayne who is into Nietzsche and has taken a vow of silence and hasn't said a word in 9 months; her grandpa Edwin Hoover who likes to cuss; and her uncle Frank Ginsburg - Sheryl's brother - who recently tried to commit suicide. Along the way, the van breaks down, Richard learns his book won't be published and they forget Olive at a gas station. They face grief along the way but they get Olive to the pageant on time - even if the pageant itself doesn't quite go as planned.
My rating: 7/10
Will I watch it again? Nah.
Super cute flick with a lot of laughs. So why didn't I go apeshit over it like everybody else? Beats me. It kind of felt contrived sometimes. The performances were great right down the line and it was awesome seeing Bryan Cranston and his BREAKING BAD co-star Dean Norris in small roles (Norris was fucking hilarious). It's a fun little picture and I almost hate to say anything negative about it but some really tragic things happen that only bums the family out for a couple of minutes and then they move on for the sake of the end game which is getting Olive (the adorable Abigail Breslin) to the shitty beauty pageant. And I totally didn't buy so-and-so's chance meeting with that someone in a gas station. The film has moments like that that defy logic and basic screenwriting. I know, like I've written anything. These moments are so quickly done away with by distracting the audience with other things like something shiny in the corner of your eye. It's dysfunction coated in sugar and kept afloat on top of a styrofoam-filled self-help book. I have no fucking idea what I just said. It's either brilliant or ridiculous. Alan Arkin is hilarious as the dope-taking, foul-mouthed grandfather and it's nice seeing Steve Carell play someone who isn't an idiot. If you haven't seen it, give it a shot. There's a wide degree of laughs that will coax at least one out of you regardless of how you like your funny served.