No. You, are not... Little Miss Sunshine is overrated! There, I said it.
This critical darling, independent film sensation from a few years back is a joke.
I am a supporter not only in theory, but in practice, of independent film, but this movie is a black stain on the culture.
This movie is a gilded turd masquerading as a gem.
It's mind-boggling to me how many respected film critics heaped praise on this preposterous piece of puff (how do you like that for alliteration!).
The worst part is that I'm a Carelly? A Carellite? A Careller? I'm a big fan of Steve Carell - let's put it like that. And even he couldn't avoid the many icebergs that this sinking ship hit along the way.
Art imitates life right? Great. I get that there are some quirky families out there in the real world. But let's examine the Damn Hoover (hehe) clan for just a minute...
WARNING: There be spoilers down below!
Greg Kinnear is a motivational speaker who doesn't actually motivate.
Steve Carell is gay and slits his wrists due to unrequited love.
Paul Dano has stopped speaking, wants to join the Airforce, and hates his family - I'm actually with him on this last one; I hate his family too.
Alan Arkin is the do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do junkie Grandpa.
Abigail Breslin is the precocious preteen with body image issues.
Toni Collette is the glue holding it all together.
You might be saying to yourself at this point, "that's great Lenny, but what sort of hijinks ensue?"
Well, if you cool your jets for just a sec, I was actually getting to that...
Abigail Breslin gets a call telling her that she's been accepted to compete in a pageant - in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant - to be precise. The whole family piles into their needs-to-be-push-started VW Bus and heads to Californee (just like the Clampetts), on a cross-state trek to make the registration deadline.
At an early gas stop, Steve Carell, bandaged wrists and all, bumps into the unrequitee of his love (the reason for the wrist slitting), along with the unrequitee's new boy toy. How convenient.
Grandpa does heroine. Who doesn't?!
Paul Dano realizes he can never fly jets because it turns out he's color-blind. So much for that self-imposed months long vow of silence. Homeboy straight flips out! Sixteen or so years and it's never come up until now? The grass is green, the sky is blue. Nothing? Not once? Really?!
Did I mention Grandpa dies along the way?
But that was to be expected, he was old, and a heroine addict!
That sucks though, cause with Grandpa dead, they have to cancel their road trip and put the man to rest.
What's that? You think they were actually gonna let a pesky little thing like the corpse of a loved one stand in the way of the Little Miss Sunshine pageant? Nay! Nay I say!
All they had to do was steal him back from the hospital, fold him in half (before the rigor mortis) and stuff him in the trunk of the bus. Easy peezy.
It's a good thing the highway patrolman that pulled them over was so cool about the whole thing. Oh wait, even though the cop actually took Greg Kinnear to the back and made him open the trunk, and began to rummage through its contents, the invisibility cloak (or you know, the like, blanket) that the family draped over Grandpa's decaying cadaver (out of respect) proved it's worth as the otherwise suspicious cop just figured that it was the dude porn that was making Greg Kinnear so nervous.
See, I knew there must have been a reason that Steve Carell was gay! If he hadn't been, there never would have been dude porn in the bus and the family's plans would have been thwarted by that nosy cop. Hooray for Gay!!! Take that Bible Belt!
And finally we get to our climax. The talent portion of the pageant, i.e. the big musical number. With Grandpa still rotting in the trunk, Olive (Abigail Breslin) takes the stage to perform the talent her and Grandpa had been secretly working on. (Preposition be damned!)
Olive's talent? A striptease. Gosh Grandpa, you're so incorrigible!
It's a shame that Grandpa's dead though, because that man was a visionary. Start 'em out young, so that by 14 when they've fully developed and blown this Popsicle stand called junior high, they will have already had 5 or 6 years of amateur experience before hitting the pole professionally, using the forged documents showing them to be of legal age, that they bought using money they made selling Grandpa's leftover heroine stash, only after pinching a little off the top of course, just in case. Ripple of Evil anyone?
Anyway, 6 years of amateur experience? A polished performance is what that amounts to. And if you're anything like me, you too won't stand for (get it? you won't stand cause you've got a chubby) an unprofessional stripper.
But I've gotten ahead of myself...so Olive is onstage performing her "talent" for the outraged masses in the audience, as gasps and astonished looks fill the crowd. Or rather, fill most of the crowd. Because wouldn't you know it, there stand the Hoovers beaming with pride. It's all come together, they've learned what it means to be a family (everyone except for Grandpa, natch, since he's still dead in the trunk).
Being this new unit of one, a family, they refuse to let common sense and decency give sweet little Olive a complex. So they run up on stage and support their little miss whore by showing the viewing audience that these actors have no dignity.
This movie was one contrivance after another, and it squandered the talents of it's very capable cast.
I'm surprised that Grandpa didn't show up alive and well in the end - "Dead? You thought I was dead you numbskulls? I was sleeping! The heroine must slow my heart rate down."
The only way this movie would have been less plausible is if, not to be upstaged by Olive (Abigail Breslin), Toni Collette began shooting flaming sea turtles out of her cooch.
The one thing I will praise this movie for, is for introducing the viewing masses and quite probably Paul Thomas Anderson, to Paul Dano. Paul Dano went on to costar in PTA's There Will Be Blood where we has able to hold his own while going toe-to-toe with the incomparable Daniel Day Lewis.