Complete A-Z list

Little Miss Sunshine


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

Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

What a crew. Dad (Kinnear) is a bankrupt motivator whose latest project has just bombed. Granpa (Arkin) snorts cocaine and swears non-stop. Son Dwayne (Dano) has taken a vow of silence and wants to be a pilot in spite of colour blindness. Dad's brother Frank (Carell), an authority on Proust, has just attempted suicide.

Mom (Collette) is, not surprisingly, a nervous wreck. And seven-year-old Olive (Breslin) has qualified for America's Little Miss Sunshine pageant, where she plans to do something completely (and shockingly) different.

Meet America's most dysfunctional family, or, as Dwayne writes, in a note to Frank: 'Welcome to Hell,' as they set out on a benighted journey to the contest.

The result of all this is a very black comedy, full of vicious, unpleasant people. It has a few laughs, but not enough, and there seems no way that dumpy, plain Olive would or could compete in a pageant full of bright, Barbie-doll seven-year-olds.

TV fans will spot Mary Lynn Rajskub (from 24) and Wallace Langham (from CSI) in minor but intelligently-played roles.

David Quinlan

USA 2006. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by CFI.
102 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 05 Sep 2006