February 07, 2007

Little Miss Partly Cloudy

I just watched two movies. Both were titled "Little Miss Sunshine." I stopped the dvd at about the halfway point to receive a telephone call. The person I spoke to had previously told me that she did not like the movie because it presented a rather dark portrayal of a dysfunctional family. At the halfway point in the movie, I agreed. The first half of "Little Miss Sunshine" was indeed dark, along the lines of "American Beauty." It made me think a bit too much about dysfunctional families, and I suspect it had a similar effect on other viewers. These types of films do very well on the coasts and at Oscar time, but I wonder how they play in Peoria. The only saving grace was the always-zany Alan Arkin, as the randy, foul-mouthed, heroin-snorting grandfather.

After my phone call, I resumed watching "Little Miss Sunshine." I enjoyed the second half much more. There seemed to be more comic moments. It's true that the film devolves into a formulaic message movie (just be who you are, etc.), Toni Collette replicates her role of mother-of-kid-about-to-embarrass-himself/herself-on-stage from "About a Boy," and the ending is the feel-good kind you have seen many times before. The overall result is a somewhat predictable ride whereby we are made to care about the family members, bad things happen to them, and ultimately we have the emotional payoff. Still, I appreciated the film's perfect casting, fine acting, edgy script (including a scathing portrayal of little-girl beauty pageants), and celebration of quirkiness.
As one character says, "A real loser is someone who's so afraid of not winning he doesn't even try." "Little Miss Sunshine" tries, and, by the end of the second half, succeeds, perhaps even for those in Peoria.


At 12:23 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

Yeah, I'd say you got this right. Not too many families can possibly be as dysfunctional as this one, but at least it ended on a positive note and there were lots of laughs along the way. I couldn't help thinking was a great actor that little girl was. She was just so natural in her part. I suppose that was exactly the message.


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