NPR logo Friday Movies: 'Little Miss Sunshine'

Friday Movies: 'Little Miss Sunshine'

Steve Carell as the suicidal Proust expert in Little Miss Sunshine. Fox Searchlights Films hide caption

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Who doesn't look back fondly on road trips with their dysfunctional families? Save me a seat on the VW bus — especially after reading Bob Mondello's review of Little Miss Sunshine.

Little Miss Sunshine: Family Values have rarely been so easy to endorse in a comedy that's definitely not for the kiddies. Audiences at Sundance ate this one up, and if the general public has any sense, it'll do the same.

It's an ensemble comedy, featuring a porn-loving, blue-talking Gramps (Alan Arkin) who snorts heroin in the basement and is coaching 7-year-old Olive for the Little Miss Sunshine Beauty Pageant. Olive's 16-year-old brother Dwayne hates the world and loves Nietzsche, and to prove it, he hasn't spoken to anyone in 9 months. Comparatively normal, sensitive Mom (Toni Collette) has her hands full with a husband (Greg Kinnear) who's a relentless self-improvement guru, and a gay brother (Steve Carell) who knows more about Proust than just about anyone, but who's just tried to kill himself because the world's second biggest authority on Proust just stole his boyfriend. Circumstances conspire to force them all into their aging VW bus to get Olive to the Pageant, but the clutch is about to go and the door's falling off and well... hijinks ensue. Great fun, muddled only slightly by a last half-hour that's sunnier than it needs to be. But then, the film's called Little Miss Sunshine, no?

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