Little Miss Sunshine


Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36

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Critic Reviews

  1. 78
    The result is a climactic scene that is pretty near perfect: both laugh-out-loud surprising and endearingly inevitable.
  2. 100
    You won't see a brighter, truer affirmation of the All-American messed-up improvisational family than Little Miss Sunshine.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    It looks at the all-American obsession with winning and chortles darkly. You still come out of the movie wanting to give your family a hug.
  4. The irony is, this family isn't mismatched: All six bickering characters are connected by empathy as well as blood, and we wait for them to figure that out.
  5. 80
    As scripted by Michael Arndt, this isn't much more than a glorified sitcom, but it deftly dramatizes our conflicting desires for individuality and an audience to applaud it.
  6. Funny, and thoughtful, and deeply, viscerally satisfying.
  7. A prime example of a dysfunctional-family comedy that also doubles as a road movie. Even the vehicle of transport is dysfunctional.
  8. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    Sharp, very funny, surprisingly moving and rejoicing in great work from the entire cast, this sparkling little gem takes the family road movie to unhoped-for heights of hilarity and humanity.
  9. 70
    It's the journey that offers the most enjoyment. Well, that and the beauty pageant climax, which I won't spoil here, but is one of the funniest scenes from film in recent memory.
  10. 90
    A raucously entertaining slice of slapstick dressed up as domestic satire.
  11. As ambitious, honest and subversive as any American movie since "Election."
  12. A charmer, a comedy with drama -- or vice versa.
  13. Little Miss Sunshine is an enchanting anthem to loserdom -- a dark comedy that piles on setback after setback and yet never loses its helium.
  14. 75
    A smart, dark road comedy.
  15. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    This indie, a sweet, tart and smart satire about a family of losers in a world obsessed with winning, is an authentic crowd pleaser. There's been no more satisfying American comedy this year.
  16. Family. Can't live with 'em, can't kill 'em. Little Miss Sunshine, a stormy quasi-comedy destined to polarize audiences, is a perfect specimen of this unsentimental attitude.
  17. 83
    A painful, funny and fresh comedy.
  18. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    Diverting and often funny enough, largely thanks (as is not unusual in cases like this) to its cast.
  19. 75
    Ultimately, despite flirting with some darker subjects, Little Miss Sunshine lives up to its name.
  20. 75
    It's "National Lampoon's Family Vacation" with soul.
  21. 80
    Carell's physical comedy is close to genius.
  22. In remarkably compact and quietly concise vignettes, we're introduced to each member, and immediately understand what they're all about.
  23. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    The recent film it most recalls is "You Can Count on Me" (2000), another small treasure about a fractured family that managed to be moving without troweling on the sap.
  24. 83
    The film accomplishes a remarkable feat of creative alchemy by breathing life and depth into characters that, in lesser hands, could easily have come across as grating caricatures.
  25. Though Little Miss Sunshine is consistently contrived in its characters' too-cute misery, the conclusion, which is genuinely outrageous and uplifting, is almost worth the hype.
  26. A brainy blend of farce and heart, this is one of those movies that veteran moviegoers complain they don't make anymore.
  27. Tucked in between all the hurt and the jokes, the character development and the across-the-board terrific performances is a surprisingly sharp look at contemporary America.
  28. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    That metaphor is pitch-perfect, but the film works a little too hard at proving the vileness of beauty pageants.
  29. 100
    What makes husband-and-wife directing team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' hilarious debut such a great family film isn't that it's suitable for the whole family (it's not), but that it speaks a simple truth about what it means to be part of one.
  30. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    It has been a while since we've seen such a consistently funny and entertaining road movie.
  31. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Pic's distinguished by a flawless cast, a gentle spirit of rebellion and a smart script by first-time screenwriter Michael Arndt that knows never to push its character quirks too hard.
  32. While the film itself isn't perfect, who cares about perfection in the face of abundant life, authentic screwiness and lovely surprises by the busload?
  33. 80
    Mostly it's just funny. Really, really funny.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 579 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 54 out of 253
  1. Sep 30, 2011
    "Little Miss Sunshine" is a heart-warm movie. It's well written script delivers that supporting each other as a family, everything is"Little Miss Sunshine" is a heart-warm movie. It's well written script delivers that supporting each other as a family, everything is possible. And yes, it is one of the best movies of the year. Full Review »
  2. Sep 30, 2011
    LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE is an independent film, humorous in its own dark little way. Though the film comes across mostly a drama, it has itsLITTLE MISS SUNSHINE is an independent film, humorous in its own dark little way. Though the film comes across mostly a drama, it has its funny moments, and all of the humor is either subtle, clever, depressing, or a combination of the three. Though Steve Carrell, now known for his wittingly hilarious role in TV's comedy THE OFFICE, appears as one of the more major characters, Alan Arkin (if any cast member) seems to be the one who draws the most audience laughs. In fact, Carrell delivers most likely the least humorous role. Though he does definitely still have his humor, with a big nod to the scene at the dinner table near the beginning. Other than that, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE is a heartwarming, sometimes weepy, and ultimately feel-good film. I highly doubt there has been one road movie as good and unpredictable as this since NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION. Full Review »
  3. JasperV.
    Dec 29, 2007
    Wow. I'm stunned. Every once in a while a movie comes along that is jaw-droppingly horrible to the point that it leaves your mouth Wow. I'm stunned. Every once in a while a movie comes along that is jaw-droppingly horrible to the point that it leaves your mouth hanging open. I lack sufficient terms to express how trite and repellent I find this simpering movie. It's an exhausted "human spirit" movie so cloying that it needs to be taken off life support. From the first time I saw the TV commercial which featured the hackneyed ruse of getting the whole family in one vehicle for the duration of a movie, I suspected the script would have difficulty making that premise believable. It certainly fails there, but that's the least of its problems. But still, the wealth of good reviews drew me to buy a ticket. My initial reservations were right. This script is an inept piece of garbage long before you evaluate it on moral grounds, where it collapses spectacularly. The family here is a mix of characters so drippy and dense that they never realize their dumpy, uncoordinated, bespectacled daughter isn't the Junior Miss type. It takes them exactly one pageant (following a needless cross country trip) to figure that out. The same family doesn't realize that a heroin-snorting, horndog grandfather shouldn't be the one teaching their adolescent daughter her beauty pageant dance number. Why not go all the way and include a "funny scene" of grandpa molesting her? The setup is practically there; a scene so distasteful feels like it's just off-screen (or on the cutting room floor) in this wholly objectionable movie. Long after a ridiculously unbelievable "chance meeting" in a gas station, long after paper-deep villains have been thrown at the screen, long after the annoying Murphy's Law plot line is exhausted, comes the most sick, saccharine, crappy moment in all of film history which involves a family attempting to redeem their seven-year old daughters failed, inappropriate talent routine (a strip tease) by joining her on stage. Sexualizing a seven year old girl without her being developmentally able to understand it... mmm, that's comedy gold. This "edgy material" is about as palatable as a cup of bleach. I'm not one to look for messages but here we've got something like "Let's all support each other as we swim up the cr*p river of life!" I'm sure it's supporters think I've missed the point and that the humor is just dark. It's not dark. Making a dark comedy is an art. This comedy has no edge in it's delivery. It's filmed straight. It's acted and presented ineptly. It's about as edgy as a smutty episode of Seventh Heaven. This is the rotten family-values homily to end them all. Drawing big saccharine payoffs to support a family values theme also places this squarely in mainstream whitebread entertainment. It makes perfect sense that idiotic Hollywood would nominate this tripe for a bunch of Oscars, but I can't believe I respect people who like this atrocity. The Oscars have become so gratingly self-impressed, and the nominees so limp, that all you can really do anymore is root against films you don't want to have any further influence on the culture. I am so glad it lost the Best Picture award ; Now it starts a long descent to the bottom of time's toilet, exactly where it belongs, where it will be forgotten. Full Review »