• Oscar noticed a dark family comedy this year.
Genre: Black comedy
DVD released: Dec. 19, 2006
Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Cast: Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin, Alan Arkin
A pleasant little diversion it is, but Little Miss Sunshine's status as an Oscar nominee for anything, let alone best picture, doesn't speak well of the crop of films released in 2006. My interest was piqued by a review noting the film's parallels to one of my all-time favorite comedies, National Lampoon's Vacation. It's the same sort of dysfunctional family road trip here with Dad (Greg Kinnear, excelling at portraying an asshole) going into "by God, we're gonna get there no matter what" mode in the face of mounting obstacles. The destination is the Little Miss Sunshine pageant, where seven-year-old aspiring pageant queen Olive (supporting actress nominee Abigail Breslin), an "ordinary" girl, plans to make her mark. Alan Arkin steals the show in the first half of the movie as the jaded and horny grandpa, earning a best supporting actor nod for his effort. Other personalities along for the ride are Olive's brother (Paul Dano), muted by a vow of silence, and uncle, Frank (Steve Carell), who recently attempted suicide. The silliness climaxes with pageant madness. // DVD notes // Four deleted scenes don't offer a lot of substance, as they aren't all fully filmed.