Of crooked roads, twisted laughs and a quirky ride.
Cast: Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Abigail Breslin, Steve Carell, Paul Dano and Alan Arkin.
Genre: Dark comedy | DVD priced at: Rs 599
If you could accompany the Hoover family on any one road trip, it should be the one where they all pile into their weather-beaten Volkswagen T2 Microbus and head to California. For on this trip, you will not only have interesting co-passengers but also an unlimited supply of drama, topped with copious doses of dark hilarity.
Little Miss Sunshine is an American road film that takes the route to satirical drollery with the story of a dysfunctional family. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006 and has garnered some serious praise. Husband-wife duo of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris direct this film, that depicts how winning-crazed our society is.
The Hoover family sets out on the trip from Albuquerque when the protagonist, the 7-year old Olive Hoover (Abigail Breslin) qualifies for a pre-pubescent beauty pageant (for the title of Little Miss Sunshine), to be held in California. Olive has a heroin addict for a grandpa, a bankrupt father, a frustrated mother, an uncle who failed a suicide attempt and a stepbrother who maintains a vow of silence. Sounds weird? Oh, rest assured, you’ll grow to love them.
Along the way, their bus encounters a number of mechanical problems, matching the family’s situation. Overcoming several hurdles along the way, the family reaches California for Olive’s pageant. The film climaxes with a shockingly authentic portrayal of a pageant – preteen girls with stylised hair and glamourous eveningwear. Picture Olive here, with her large glasses and chubby cheeks sans any make-up.
It is the twisted sense of humour that complements the realism, and holds the story together. For a large part of the film, the family is out on the road battling gruesome heat and as the viewer, you feel the heat too. What stands out amid all the chaos and catharsis is the easy naturalism. The visuals are fresh and eccentric, allowing the characters’ personalities to take centre stage. Another notable aspect of the film is its music, which is a mix of indie rock and folk music. Denver-based band, DeVotchKa has provided majority of the score. They used unusual instruments such as the sousaphone, theremin and bouzouki to give an odd, humourous feel to the music.
Little Miss Sunshine is not to be confused for a children’s film, for it is definitely not that. The film has some dialogue involving profanity and shows substance abuse. That said, from the photography to the sets, the music and the superb performances, the film captures the Hoovers in all their absurdity, angst and affection. It’s definitely a road trip you don’t want to miss.