Monday, August 28, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

Some might call it a trend, the comedy of unhappiness. One needn't look far, they're everywhere these days. There's dark, psychological subject matter lightly peppered with quirk and whimsy. There's clever editing and a homespun appeal to the filmmaking process. There's an amplified reliance on the significance of color that makes the whole picture feel like a gumball machine. There's an "indie" soundtrack by artists that any independent musician would swear is the work of giant corporations. There's a climactic dance number to make it all the more surreal and at once strangely human. Then there's the moniker "independent film". Of course any film starring Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Steve Carell and Toni Collette couldn't truly pass as "independent" - these are household Hollywood names! But somehow despite all the gripes critics are levelling at this phenomenon, I simply cannot find fault - and I couldn't find one thing to complain about with Little Miss Sunshine.

Failed suicide, failing marriage, closet heroin snorting, a vow of silence, an obsession with pagentry, and self-help grandstanding posturing itself as a solution to every little thing. These are a few of the impediments that the endearing Hoover family must grapple with as they trek from Albuquerque to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in Redondo Beach, California. To say much more would spoil the fun that ensues. I haven't had such an entertaining experience at the movies in as long as I remember. And judging by the audience's anticipation before, participation during, and buzz afterwards, I'm certain that I'm not alone in my infatuation. Eat your heart out Napoleon Dynamite.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars


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