The Winning Losers

A winning comedy about losers? If you immediately thought of “The Benchwarmers,” can you please step aside before I call you a loser? The one that should come to mind is “Little Miss Sunshine.” (The picture above should been a glaring hint). This indie gem burst out during summer, along side big budget movies. By the end of the year, those blockbusters are a thing of the past while “Little Miss Sunshine” is still shining bright in some critics’ top 10 lists.

The movie spotlights the Hoover family, whose daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin) has been accepted to participate in the titular beauty pageant. Onboard to lend support, the family members, which includes Dad Richard (Greg Kinnear), Mom Sheryl (Toni Collette), Uncle Frank (Steve Carell), Son Dwayne (Paul Dano), and Grandpa (Alan Arkin), ride in a manually driven van to the pageant. Since the family is dysfunctional and the movie is a comedy, you can bet this road trip is going to be one hell of a ride. If you’re thinking “Hey, that’s like the great movie ‘RV,’” can you also step aside before I call you a you-know-what?

I admit I’m not that fond of meandering plots of road trip movies, but what I like about “Little Miss Sunshine” is its characters. Not only are they written well, they are acted wonderfully by a great cast. Yes, it’s true that they are weird, but as strange as they are, they’re so painfully real at times. And that’s where the movie mines its chuckles and laughs. I also grew to admire the ensemble, which really clicked well together. We buy the whole act because none of the actors mug the camera for comedy. They’re seriously in character. There are two standouts for me. Greg Kinnear as a failing motivational speaker and Steve Carell as a suicidal homosexual are both utterly funny. I guess I have to mention Abigail Breslin, who gets her freak on by the end of the movie. The girl has been getting praises from critics, movie fans, and pedophiles alike. Poor Dakota Fanning – she must be rolling in her bed.

Grade: A-

Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Marc Turtletaub, and Jill Talley
Screenplay by
Micahel Arndt
Directed by
Jonathan Dayton
Valerie Faris
Rated R for language, some sex and drug content