Bob Mondello Bob Mondello reviews movies and covers the arts for NPR News, seeing at least 250 films and 100 plays annually, and shares critiques and commentaries on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine
All Things Considered.
July 28, 2006 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 Carrell) 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: Little Miss Sunshine, no?
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