Movie #112 2021: Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Life is full of ‘why’s’, isn’t it? Why didn’t I pay more attention in school? Why am I so addicted to reality TV competition shows? Why does capitalism reign supreme when it’s so detrimental to society? You catch my drift. In this case specifically, the question is “WHY didn’t I watch this movie before now?!” My heart feels so full.

Little Miss Sunshine should be renamed ‘The Little Movie That Could’. Though its cast list is full of A List actors, it was made on a mere $8 million budget, released at Sundance in 2006, and could be very much be considered a little indie movie that done good. Not only did it get nominated for four Academy Awards, but it won two of them, including best screenplay. Not bad, huh?

The premise is very simple yet so heartwarming: a broken but loving family of quirky characters band together to do everything they can to get daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin) to California to complete in the beauty pageant of her dreams. That’s it. Little Miss Sunshine is basically a road trip movie, but it’s so full of soul and warmth that I get a fuzzy feeling every time I think about it.

Firstly, Toni Collette is so underrated. She’s simultaneously subtle and yet also over the top and you can tell exactly what her character is thinking at all times. She’s so often overlooked and she so strongly deserves more recognition for what she does. Secondly, I love Steve Carell with my whole heart and I don’t care who knows it. He’s mostly known for his comedy performances, but this movie is proof that he’s an outstanding dramatic actor too. Though Michael Scott will always have a place in my heart, his performance as struggling, suicidal brother Frank is perhaps his best performance to date. Great ensemble cast across the board.

It could not be more obvious why so many people love this film. Something about the characters and their story as a family resonates so sweepingly and strongly with so many. It’s a film about a long, arduous journey in which a lot of things go wrong, but in the end, it’ll be fine as long as you’re together. Kind of like life, I suppose. 

Brilliant screenplay, excellent writing, black comedy at its finest. Remember when I said this won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay? There’s no wonder: it was fully deserved. There’s simply a little bit of everything in here: drama, comedy, love, hate, light and dark, and it’s all balanced out perfectly, creating the most well-rounded and beautiful script I’ve come across this year.

Not only is the writing beyond brilliant, but there are so many gorgeous panoramic shots in this too that I didn’t expect. The cinematography deserves a shout out (despite it not being recognised by any major awards panels due to it being quite simple) because this movie will leave you feeling completely satisfied by everything you’ve just witnessed.

I laughed, I cried, and now my tummy feels warm at the mere thought of thinking about Little Miss Sunshine. That’s what the best films do to you.

Little Miss Sunshine is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

Costume & Set Design: 
Overall Rating: ½

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