Little Miss Sunshine
Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Screenwriters: Michael Arndt
- 2013 Sundance Institute Film Series
- 2006 Sundance Film Festival
Meet the Hoover family: Olive, a seven-year-old, slightly pudgy, aspiring beauty queen; her father, Richard, a struggling motivational speaker who can't help but push; and her mom, Sheryl, who has to bring her Proust scholar/brother, Frank, home after his failed suicide attempt. Frank has to stay with Sheryl's Nietzsche-worshiping son, Dwayne, who has taken a vow of silence until he is old enough to be a fighter pilot. Then there's Grandpa, recently kicked out of his nursing home for snorting heroin.
When they are all forced to hop into the old VW bus to take Olive to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant, this is either a portrait of the most dysfunctional family you've ever seen or the absolutely hilarious tragicomic journey of a family whose lives are in for a change.
That this is a first feature by the directorial team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris is stunning, given the film's level of execution. With an exceptional cast, whose "effortless" performances are pure pleasure, this madcap comedy literally transports a Capraesque lunacy to the present. And like the films of that master of farce, this delicious, abundant, comic storytelling sends up American values even as it draws out the humanity hidden in the most misfit of families.