Reviewed by: Richard Schmitz
Suicide, what does the Bible say? Answer
If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer
What should a Christian do when overwhelmed with depression? Answer
What’s wrong with being gay? Answer
Homosexual behavior versus the Bible: Are people born gay? Does homosexuality harm anyone? Is it anyone’s business? Are homosexual and heterosexual relationships equally valid?
What about gays needs to change? Answer
It may not be what you think.
What does the Bible say about same sex marriages? Answer
Can a gay or lesbian person go to heaven? Answer
If a homosexual accepts Jesus into his heart, but does not want to change his lifestyle, can he/she still go to Heaven?
What should be the attitude of the church toward homosexuals and homosexuality? Answer
Read stories about those who have struggled with homosexuality
|Featuring:||Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin, Alan Arkin|
|Director:||Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris|
|Producer:||Marc Turtletaub, David T. Friendly, Peter Saraf, Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa|
|Distributor:||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
“Everyone just pretend to be normal”
Quirky families have been the foundation of innumerable comic films (Ma and Pa Kettle come to mind) and ages of television shows (“Beverly Hillbillies”, “The Simpsons”, “Malcolm in the Middle”, are just a few examples). “Little Miss Sunshine,” directed by the husband and wife duo of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, follows in this tradition—and another tradition as well, that of the road trip.
For the Christian filmgoer, there is plenty to object to in “Little Miss Sunshine,” beginning with heroin-dealing, cocaine-using and porn-buying Grandpa and continuing through Nietzsche-reading 15-year old Dwayne who has taken a vow of silence and wears a t-shirt reading “Jesus Was Wrong” and ending with Frank, suicidal after an affair with a male graduate student went bad. That and a child performs a strip-tease (albeit very innocently).
The center of the film’s story, however, is 7-year-old Olive Hoover—a little pudgy with plain, straight hair, and overly large glasses—who dreams of being Miss America and participates in whatever local beauty pageant is open to 7-year-olds. Olive, unlike those around her, is an eternal optimist, is courageous, and states her belief that there is a Heaven.
If you can get past the bad language and images of drug use and porn, you’ll find a very positive movie that has some good things to say. The theme of “Little Miss Sunshine” is that love and family is the only thing that you can count on to get you through the stress, struggle and pain of life’s circumstances. You will either walk out of the film—or walk out of the film at the end with a smile and a good reminder of just how important family bonds can be.
“Little Miss Sunshine” is very well acted, written and directed. Steve Carell is perfect as a depressed, gay college professor who’s just lost out (personally and professionally) to his apparently only rival in the narrow academic field of the study of Marcel Proust. Veteran actor Alan Arkin plays Grandpa, bitter about being evicted from his retirement home after being discovered dealing heroin.
Greg Kinnear plays Richard Hoover, the dad of the family, who’s desperately marketing a self-improvement program he’s come up with. “Are you a winner? Or are you a loser?” is a frequent refrain. Mom, Sheryl Hoover, is played perfectly by Toni Collette. She’s a nurturer and peacemaker teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown as she shepherds her family through, teen angst, financial strain and domestic disarray. Paul Dano is excellent as Olive’s brother. “I hate everybody,” he writes whilst silent. When Frank asks if he means his family, too, Dwayne casually underlines “everybody.”
Peacefully in the middle is Olive, played perfectly by Abigail Breslin. For some reason, Olive and Grandpa are a team—they accept each other unconditionally—and together they train, with Grandpa as choreographer, for whatever pageant opportunities come Olive’s way.
The film’s plot is simple enough: after winning (by default) a local “Little Miss Sunshine” pageant, Olive learns she has advanced to a regional pageant. The family, for various reasons, must make the drive from Albuquerque to Redondo Beach in their vintage VW microbus. What follows is both poignant and hilarious.
This film will have to be marked “offensive,” however, once the layers of cultural shock is rolled back, the basic message is positive, and I think uplifting.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.