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Little Miss Sunshine
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Product Description

Despite their individual problems and disappointments, the Hoovers decide to support young daughter Olive's dream of competing in a California beauty pageant.
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Media Type: DVD
Street Release Date: 03/06/2007

Pile together a blue-ribbon cast, a screenplay high in quirkiness, and the Sundance stamp of approval, and you've got yourself a crossover indie hit. That formula worked for Little Miss Sunshine, a frequently hilarious study of family dysfunction. Meet the Hoovers, an Albuquerque clan riddled with depression, hostility, and the tattered remnants of the American Dream; despite their flakiness, they manage to pile into a VW van for a weekend trek to L.A. in order to get moppet daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin) into the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. Much of the pleasure of this journey comes from watching some skillful comic actors doing their thing: Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette as the parents (he's hoping to become a self-help authority), Alan Arkin as a grandfather all too willing to give uproariously inappropriate advice to a sullen teenage grandson (Paul Dano), and a subdued Steve Carell as a jilted gay professor on the verge of suicide. The film is a crowd-pleaser, and if anything is a little too eager to bend itself in the direction of quirk-loving Sundance audiences; it can feel forced. But the breezy momentum and the ingenious actors help push the material over any bumps in the road.-- Robert Horton

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Customer Reviews:

  • 3 stars out of 4
    The Bottom Line:

    Little Miss Sunshine suprised me as much as anyone by charming its way to an undeserved Best Picture nomination, but it's still a funny and fast-moving road comedy with its share of affecting moments and quotable lines. ...more info
  • We All Live In A Yellow VW Van
    A refreshing corrective to our American fetish with "Facing the Giants" and winning. As one reviewer insightfully stated: this movie really is about a family of losers who learn the most valuable lesson of all: winning ISN'T everything---it isn't even important. There are no "nine steps" to success or "eight steps" to peace with God. God and Life and Families are not systems we program for success, but Blessings we commit to---for better or for worse. We may not defeat the giants, figure out the correct steps to God, or get a new SUV. But life can still be sweet in a dysfuncional VW Van.
    ...more info
  • Zaney Movie, Unfortunate Ending
    I had no idea what to expect from "Little Miss Sunshine" but I knew that it was nominated for "Best Picture" so it must have had something going for it. I caught on quickly that this is not your ordinary movie and I soon realized that anything could happen. This is a story of a hopelessly dysfunctional family whose many seperate parts find a most unusal way of coming together. You can see it coming and it really becomes rather impressive to watch. However, this film disappointed me in how it ended.

    I was bothered by the portrayal of the phoney plastic young girls in the Little Miss Sunshine. Let's face it, movies and TV stereotype just about everything. For some groups it has been a real issue. However, when was the last time you saw a pageant portrayed as a number of young ladies striving to become the best that they could be with every participant exiting the event as a better person than when they started? I've attended a lot of pageants over the years (thanks primarily because our town annually hosts the state's Miss America contest). The reality of the quality of the participants has always impressed me as far exceeding the demeaning stereotype that permeants society's general impressions. Maybe it's an overblown reation but it bothered me how the movie strayed from what I saw as a theme of how to become a success. All of the film's unusual family members had failed to achieve their goals except for our young and endearing heroine. How the movie treated her moment on the stage really bothered me. Otherwise, this is an enjoyable albeit unusual film.

    I guess I should acknowledge that the message of "Little Miss Sunshine" might possibly be that the problem with chasing our dreams is that they can turn into nightmares. Be happy with what life allots you while laughing at those who haven't yet had their comeuppance. This could have been such a better movie! Oh well, I noticed that this was an independent film so perhaps they were poking fun at Hollywood's glamour girls with more looks than talent while the Indie actors were doing the heavy lifting. See, none of this really scores any points. Oh well, enjoy "Littler Miss Sunshine" for what it is rather than what it isn't. ...more info
  • Don't waste your time
    A pathetic excuse for entertainment. I was embarrassed for all of them as actors (the little girl was cute though, and it was not her fault that her parents let her work in a movie like that). There was a lot of profanity for a family theme. I thought it was going to be a good movie, but I was terribly wrong....more info
  • Little Miss Sunshine
    This will become a classic. It captures the struggle and dysfunction of the American family. Very funny....more info
  • The little film that stole America's heart...
    During the 2006 Awards Season there was no film that made an impact quite like `Little Miss Sunshine'. You can argue and say that `The Departed' made such an impact, beings that it did walk away with top honors, but seriously, no one was talking about `The Departed' like they were talking about `Little Miss Sunshine'. It became a phenomenon. The following year `Juno' waltzed up to an Oscar nomination thanks to the success this little yellow bus and even this years `Slumdog Millionaire' is being called the `Little Film that Could'. `Little Miss Sunshine' represents that little independent film that garners cult status quickly and finds a place in the hearts of award bodies everywhere.

    Now I liked this movie, but personally it isn't deserving of the unabashed praise it received. It's actually quite common and not very imaginative when you think about it. It's sweet and charming but nothing new, and while it has it's moments of wit it also has awkward moments that you know are supposed to be funny, but just aren't.

    It's a mixed bag for me.

    The film follows the Hoover family (as dysfunctional as they come) as they embark on a cross country trip to get young Olive to a beauty pageant. Richard, the father, is a self obsessed man who aspires to get famous off his step program to a better you. His wife Sheryl is merely trying to hold together her family while remaining remotely sane. Their oldest son Dwayne has taken a vow of silence while he waits to join the Air Force. Richard's father Edwin is a foul mouthed gruff drug addict with a heart of gold and Sheryl's brother Frank is a suicidal teacher who is crumbling emotionally after a sour relationship with a male student. Stuck in the middle is young impressionable Olive who just wants to be pretty.

    Everything that can go wrong does go wrong, but tagged onto the end of this comedy is a message of togetherness and family; a spark of sweet saccharine goodness that makes you feel a little better about yourself and your loved ones. I understand why people like this film; even I liked it, but I find it hard to consider it the best of anything.

    Breslin is a natural talent; very genuine and believable. One friend of mine said that he never caught her acting, which is very true. I have always liked Kinnear and I found his turn here probably best in show. He was superbly entertaining and understandable as the controlling father obsessed with winning. Toni Collette continues shining her beacon of light on everything she touches; and I adore her for that. There was a lot said about the supporting actor race that year and the three `Sunshine' men; Alan Arkin, Steve Carell and Paul Dano. Honestly I fell that AMPA's got this one right, and I know that not many agree with me there. I thought that Arkin was very genuine and heartwarming here, even at his crudest. No, he should not have won, but that's beside the point. Carell was also very warm here and understood his character (what a stretch for him) and Dano was interesting yet a little vapid. I found his emotional breakdown rather hard to believe, but he does try really hard so I'll give him props for that. He stepped up his game in a HUGE way the following year with a stellar performance in `There Will Be Blood'.

    Truth be told, the funniest parts in this movie involve running, and just the sight of any of the cast barreling down a street or a parking lot gives me the giggles. It is also a true statement that some parts of this film fall flat. Like I said; a mixed bag. It's fun, but not great. You will enjoy it, but if you walk into this expecting it to deliver on all the hype you may find yourself disappointed....more info
  • Holy Cow this was really bad.
    Wow. Wow. Are Academy voters sniffing glue? This was art-house ca-ca. Where can I begin? This was one of the most disappointing times of my movie viewing year. For the past 12 months, in my circles, I have heard nothing but praise and accolades for 'Little Miss Sunshine'. These accolades coming from 11 year old girls to 80 year old men, to film school students who praise this as a hidden gem of 'raw-art-situational comedy'. Everyone telling me in every way imaginable, "Oh Ken you have to see this movie. It's so amazing. It speaks to so many people on so many different avenues." Hmmm, clearly I am driving on an isolationist freeway.

    While there were tender moments (Paul Dano (L.I.E.) talking with the gay Steve C. (Dan in Real Life) on the docks about doing what you want to do and screwing morals and society's judgements), I seemed to be wondering when in fact the movie would become something of importance or interest. It failed on all fronts to move me to understand it's purpose, albeit trying to be hilariously funny. While the opening scenes point to a storyline with depth and tender emotions, (save the regurgated use of the word cliche) it guts what little it can delve out, with unwitty righteous ensemble displays of earnest and ill will towards Alan Arkin trying desperately to be comedic. On a sidenote, Paul Dano has intense potential, despite anyone with a pulse being able to play his roll as the quiet, isolated teenage son, he comes through when he breaks his silence with his outburst in the suburbian field, and like Jamie Bell (UnderTow, Billy Elliott) he is not afraid to take on roles which clearly shows the depth of his craft as his performances are dynamic, intriguing, diverse and controversial. We should watch his career with great intrigue.

    Uniformly, LMS falls on almost every attempt to try almost effortlessly to shine as an art-house indie flick with that sub-genre of psuedo-intellectuals who think films like these are progressively artistic in their endeavors to speak to everyone in some way. In fact it can't seem to find solid ground, save Alan Arkin who's incessant use of the F word was uncalled for in its excess. I am sheltered in believing that this little film was to be a shining, roving example of what is lacking in Hollywood, and how a low budget movie can bring momentum to an often saturated industry filled with massive CGI mega blockbusters and B Movie straight to DVD trash. However, it can only take this movie lover to a certain level of cynicism in wondering:


    Ken, January '08...more info
  • A feel good movie
    A great movie that starts off depressing and ends with a burst. A few F words, so it would be a problem to watch as a family with young children the same age as the girl in the movie who is made to cover her ears. ...more info
  • Ode To Familial Dysfunction
    A question: What do you get when you mix a father who happens to be a self-help guru wannabe (Greg Kinnear); a foul-mouthed, lascivious (yet well meaning) grandfather (Alan Arkin); a sullen, rebellious teenager who refuses to speak (Paul Dano); a despondent, suicidal brother (Steve Carell); a cherubic, enthusiastic, young daughter (Abigail Breslin); and a frazzled mother trying to hold it all together (Toni Collette)? Pick the daughter as a last-minute contestant for a preteen pageant hundreds of miles away, throw the family into a broken-down Volkswagon bus, and you've got LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, a delightful yet poignant comedy with a definite aftertaste.

    This is a film not for the faint of heart (there are some very adult themes that are vetted), and while the viewer is exposed to constant dysfunction and conflict and disruption, we do eventually learn that blood is thicker than water, as the Hoover family definitely circles the wagons when one of their own has her back against the wall. The movie stays on track until the sudden flight from the hospital--when the metaphorical shark is jumped--yet for the most part LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE is bawdy entertainment at its finest. Special kudos to Carell and Arkin for terrific performances.
    --D. Mikels, Author, The Reckoning...more info
  • "Sarcasm Is The Refuge Of Losers."
    "Little Miss Sunshine" has a brilliant cast and contains moments of pure genius. The story follows the exploits of a troubled suburban family as they drive across the country to enter their seven year old daughter in the "Little Miss Sunshine" pageant. I am a big fan of both Greg Kinnear and Steve Carell, but in this case I think Carell did the better job as a formerly suicidal professor (and America's number one Proust expert). My favorite scenes in the film were of the interactions between Carell and Paul Dano as a angst-ridden teenager who has taken a vow of silence related to his desire to become an Air Force pilot (you'll have to watch the film for all the confusing details.) Dano and Carell manage to be both genuinely disturbed and genuinely touching, especially late in the movie.

    The plot is more than a bit contrived and formulaic, although the last ten minutes were rather unpredictable. I found the film to get off to a very slow start, and the pace to be somewhat plodding throughout, although the last half hour is more captivating than the first hour. Although this is a movie about a family, this is not a family film, and the R rating is there for several reasons, not the least of which are very mature themes, and excessively foul language, especially from Alan Arkin. I was extremely pleased, though, that the film skewered the unfortunate scourge of sub-teen beauty pageants: I was genuinely creeped out by the young contestants (and their families.) The conclusion of the pageant was shocking and, while amusing, made a serious comment on contemporary mores.

    The cast is talented, and the critiques of modern society, particularly the exposure of the false values of the winner and loser, are frequently on the money if you look past the superficial veneer of the movie as strictly a comedy. Despite the obvious talent that went into the movie, I was less enthusiastic than I expected, given my respect for the cast members: the pacing was often slow (particularly at the outset), and the script was full of gratuitous exchanges seemingly placed simply for shock value and a cheap laugh (e.g. Arkin's diatribe to Dano about virility) that went far beyond what was necessary to establish the lack of functional cohesiveness as a family unit. There are moments of unadulterated brilliance in the film, but it is by no means deserving of the highly effusive praise from such luminous sources as "Newsweek" and "USA Today."...more info
  • A hilariously stressed-out family bickers and bonds on the world's worst road trip
    When you first start watching Little Miss Sunshine, you may have the alarmed feeling that you've accidentally picked up a heavy family drama. The Hoover family of Albuquerque NM is teetering on the brink of disaster.

    Richard Hoover (Greg Kinnear) tries to maintain a desperately dynamic tone as he teaches a motivational class to six bored participants in a grungy classroom. His wife Sheryl Hoover (Toni Collette) has to go a psychiatric hospital to pick up her brother Frank (Steve Carell), a university professor who attempted suicide over unrequited love for a male graduate student.

    She moves Frank into their suburban home where he has to bunk with teenage son Dwayne (Paul Dano), a devotee of Nietzsche, who has taken a vow of silence until he can escape his family by getting into the Air Force Academy. Richard's dad (Alan Arkin), a resentful hippie, has been living with the Hoovers since getting kicked out of his retirement home for shooting heroin. And he happens to be the only one who cares enough to make time for pudgy 7 year-old Olive (Abigail Breslin) who wants to compete in beauty contests.

    Yet even all this desperation holds a compelling edge of black humor. The plot immediately kicks into gear when circumstances involving a default move Olive into the finals of the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant to be held in Redondo Beach CA. The family has three days to get Olive to the beauty pageant in their unreliable Volkswagon bus - and of course the grandfather and the suicidal uncle can't be left alone so they have to come, too. As does poor Dwayne.

    Two key performances are Grandpa and Frank who have each decided they have nothing to lose. Frank develops a bemused and gentle hands-off approach to events: he just lets life happen to him and laughs at it. In that way, he's a good companion for high-strung Dwayne. Grandpa, on the other hand, gets increasingly impatient with the adults and poor squeamish Dwayne whom he peppers with inappropriate sex advice.

    But he's always there to reassure Olive and help her develop her dance routine as best as an old reprobate like him can. I mean, what does he really know about sugary-sweet kiddie beauty pagents? But he does his best by Olive, even helping her pick her music. When the movie finally gets to the pageant after the family has been bickering and bonding on their increasingly bizarre road trip, you may burst out laughing when you recognize the first few notes of Olive's chosen song. At least you will if you remember the 1980s - at the hilarious and inadvertent inappropriateness of it all.

    In the end, though, this is a story about a family that sticks together. It's a terrifically entertaining character-driven piece, and features fine acting by all involved.
    ...more info
  • You will love this movie
    Finally got around to watching Little Miss Sunshine, and it was just as good as everyone said it was. The film tells the story of the Hoover family - success-obsessed dad Richard (Greg Kinnear), harried mother Sheryl (Toni Collette), wide-eyed (and completely precious) daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin), suicidal Uncle Frank (Steve Carrell, in a BRILLIANT turn), a heroin-snorting grandpa (Alan Arkin), and (finally) iron-pumping older brother Dwayne, who has taken a vow of silence until he gets into the Air Force Academy. Due to a fluke, little Olive is invited to participate in the hotly contested "Little Miss Sunshine" pageant in California. The family loads into their dated VW van to make the several hundred mile trek to get Olive to the competition on time.

    While there is certainly enough plot to go around, this is primarily a character piece. We see Richard realize that his preoccupation with being a "winner" is awfully detrimental and none too forgiving. We watch as Frank copes with being dumped by his lover and surpassed by his professional colleagues. We see Dwayne's dream to be a pilot threatened. And through all of the family's losses, we watch them prop each other up and realize that losing isn't really all that bad, as long as you have some good company.

    EVERYONE in the cast brought their A-game, but the two standouts for me were Breslin and Carrell. Breslin was absolutely adorable as little Olive, who has no reason to believe she can't win the pageant. And she is so trusting and vulnerable that I was totally hooked. Carrell as the jilted gay academic proves once again that he is a veritable Proteus. The guy has range. His melancholy recovery from depression is something to see - smart, likable, witty, in other words, someone we really want to keep around. As odd as it sounds, Frank is, in many ways, the straight man of the piece. (Ha!)

    At any rate, you will love this movie. I did, and I strongly encourage you to check it out.
    ...more info