Alternate Title: The Family that Plays Together
Olive Hoover (Abigail Breslin) gets a chance to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in California. Unfortunately for her, this means her entire family has to come along for the trek from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In tow is her dad, Richard (Greg Kinnear), a high-strung motivational speaker waiting to hear whether his book deal is going to go through; her mom, Sheryl (Toni Collette); Olive’s grandpa and coach (Alan Arkin), who snorts heroin and spouts diatribes to the family about how to live well; her selectively mute brother, Dwayne (Paul Dano), who wants to be a pilot in the Air Force and refuses to speak until he achieves this goal; and her Uncle Frank (Steve Carrell), who recently attempted suicide when his male grad student fell in love with someone else.
The family travels across the state in a funny yellow van that develops horn problems and clutch problems to mirror the smorgasbord of problems of the people it carries on the road.
While her dad emphasizes the importance of being a winner and not a loser, Olive and her family get plenty of more lessons in living well than just the ones they hear about from Grandpa.
One of the many things I enjoyed about this movie includes a small Breaking Bad foreshadow cast over the film. The Hoover family is from Albuquerque, just like Walter White and Stan Grossman – the man marketing Dad’s book idea – is played by Bryan Cranston, Walter White himself. Plus, the family gets pulled over at one point and the officer doing the pulling is Dean Norris…AKA Officer Hank Schrader!
Without getting too preachy about the pitfalls of body comparison and pageantry, Little Miss Sunshine is warm and honest in every possible way.
Now it’s Your Turn…
Little Miss Sunshine was nominated for Best Picture in 2006, but did the Academy get it right?