Top 365 Films – #249 – Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Top 365 Films - Little Miss SunshineDIRECTED BY: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

STARRING: Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Abigail Breslin, Paul Dano, Steve Carell and Alan Arkin


EARNED (Worldwide): $100.5m

AWARDS: 2 Oscars (Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay) and 2 BAFTA’s (Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay)



A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus.


Little Miss Sunshine centres on the Hoover family as young daughter Olive has learned that she’s qualified for the Little Miss Sunshine contest in California…the issue being though that the entire family must set out to California from Albuquerque in their VW camper van. The family includes mother Sheryl, the sane one, the father Richard, a motivational speaker just waiting for his book to be published, brother Dwayne has taken a vow of silence and doesn’t say a word, grandpa Edwin who is addicted to heroin and uncle Frank Ginsberg who recently tried to commit suicide.


Little Miss Sunshine is one of those small films that for me just gets better with every viewing, focusing on a family that is as dysfunctional as it gets, with a mother doing her best to keep everything as normal as possible, a father who is a very judgemental motivational speaker, though a failed one at that so maybe he’s bravado of judgement and ‘winners and losers’ categorising of people is to motivate himself, a brother who vows not to speak as a discipline method, but he hates everyone, a grandpa who got booted from his retirement home for sleeping around and taking heroin. But somehow, together through this road trip their bring becomes much stronger as they pull themselves together and make the journey to get to the contest happen for young Olive, no matter what it takes. The script is great with the dialogue of the characters amongst each other, making the road trip/indie vibe feel fresh and have a certain warmth and charm to the film, particularly in the final act. The performances are great too with each one getting their own particular scene to shine, from Greg Kinnear in terrific form as the father Richard (who I found very unlikeable until the final act), Toni Collette as mother Sheryl (seeing her family finally coming together in unison in the final act), Alan Arkin as grandpa Edwin (telling his granddaughter about beauty and being a winner), Paul Dano as brother Dwayne (learning that he’s colourblind) and Steve Carell (Basically telling Dwayne on the reasoning for sticking out school). A terrific film with a wicked sense of humour.


FAVOURITE SCENE: At Little Miss Sunshine contest, it gets to the stage where Olive shows those in attendance just what her grandpa taught her in terms of dancing….cue surprise and hilarious reactions.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: ‘A real loser is someone who’s so afraid of not winning he doesn’t even try.’ – Grandpa

DID YOU KNOW?: Steve Carell, at the time he was cast for Little Miss Sunshine (2006), was a relative unknown in Hollywood. According to an article in Entertainment Weekly, the producers of the film worried that he wasn’t a big enough star and didn’t have much acting experience. However, between the time the film was shot in the summer of 2005 and its release in the summer of 2006, Carell became a huge success as the star of the high-grossing film The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005) in August 2005 and the leading character of the popular NBC Emmy-winning television series The Office (2005), which premiered in March 2005 and for which Carell won a Golden Globe in 2006 for best lead actor in a comedy television series. In the span of just one year, Carell had become such a star that the producers had gone from protesting his casting to tapping him to do prominent promotion for the film.

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