Monday, October 22, 2012

Movie Recommendation: Little Miss Sunshine

Note: So I ate too much food tonight (read "fried food") and I am still awake and this germ of an idea comes to mind. Why not blog about movies I have seen and liked? You know, like the lesser known ones. So this is my first entry - let's see how far I keep this act going :)

IMDB entry: Little Miss Sunshine
Genre: Drama, Comedy

Image Courtesy: Fan art from

Once in a while I come across movies that I know nothing about and yet the title makes me all judgmental about it. I mean, Little Miss Sunshine. What do you expect? Some sappy, teenage romance or children book adaptation? You will be glad to know this isn't anything like that.

This takes an unexpected theme and weaves an intimate story around a dysfunctional family that comes together for their little daughter 'Olive' who has qualified for a beauty pageant called "Little Miss Sunshine". The family takes a road trip from Albuquerque to California (the venue for the pageant) in a beat-up van, so they can get Olive in time for the finals.

A grandfather addicted to crack and adult magazines, who cusses every time he speaks, an homosexual uncle who has attempted suicide, a father obsessed with an idea for a book on "winning", an overworked mother and a brother who has pledged silence and only communicates in the written word with the family - It cant get more dysfunctional than this. There is a scene in the movie where the van gets pulled over by the cops and the father says - "Everybody pretend to be normal" 

Through the trip, they face many troubles, live through each other's eccentricities; but quickly learn to rely on each other's support to get to the pageant. Olive and family, survive setbacks but are caught unawares when it becomes apparent that a beauty pageant for little girls can be as pretentious as the ones for adults. Will the plain and chubby looking Olive make it in the finals of the beauty contest?

The climax was one of the most unexpected yet delightful endings I could have envisioned for a movie like this. The casting is impeccable. At first look, the characters appear weird, but you start to feel one with them as the movie progresses. To a great extent, the movie signifies how people judge others by their appearance, their tastes, likes and dislikes. Perhaps, that is the reason, the movie mixes in eccentricity in the characters. You might not identify with the characters, but you know each of them has a purpose in the story.

My favorite character in the movie was the brother - Dwayne. He doesn't speak as he has taken a vow of silence until he gets into the Air Force. Towards the end of the movie, he shares a private moment with his uncle and vents out his frustration at the pageant venue -  

You know what? Fuck beauty contests. Life is one fucking beauty contest after another. School, then college, then work... Fuck that. And fuck the Air Force Academy. If I want to fly, I'll find a way to fly. You do what you love, and fuck the rest. 

Make no mistake - this not your usual cross country road trip sort of a movie. Nor is it all artsy and unrealistic. It might not even grab your eyeballs in the beginning. You will need to give it time to grow on you. But once you catch the pulse of the movie, it leaves you with a profound feeling on topics so diverse - family, death, dreams, setbacks - you will be craving to see what happens next. 

And no matter what, please don't miss the climax! :)


Anonymous said...

woww...I love this movie...saw this a few years ago with "offbeat" friends as well. Too bad too few people I know in person share my tastes. Too often people tend not to take the road not taken to conform to norms...if only they knew ow delightful such excursions can be...tch tch

Manju said...

yep! people too often equate "offbeat" with "no entertainment". in fact, it is the other way round. offbeat movies are both entertaining and meaningful.