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Generally favorable reviews- based on 514 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 75 out of 514

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  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 possible. And yes, it is one of the best movies of the year.
  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 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. Expand
  3. Aug 23, 2010
    At heart of such a familiar story are characters that shine above their own archetypal conception. The progression of the narrative is fluid enough, but the performances ensure the films distinction. The characters would not be believable, or nearly as compelling, were it not for their unwitting dependence on one another. The family is mutually deceiving, but each with the best of intentions. Road trip films are nearly classified as there own genre with such a distinctive structure and pay off. Comedian, Mitch Hedberg said, Im sick of following my dreams. I am just going to ask where they are going and meet up with them later. In Little Miss Sunshine, dreams both guide and antagonize the six people trapped in the yellow VW bus.

    A lack of control haunts the actions of the family. In one of the more focused scenes in the film, the son Dwaye, played aptly by Paul Dano, acknowledges his own limitations with poignant vocalization. Dwayne craves autonomy more than any other in the film and is grounded by a new found genetic disadvantage. In attempting to blame his family, from afar, it only provokes his sister closer. She is unaffected by his sentiments because his true nature contrasts the outburst in her mind. It is her intimate knowledge of Dwayne that enables the film to move on.

    In this sense, the movie can be viewed as an interpersonal puzzle. Alone, each character is indistinguishable of something whole. It is only when pushing on together that they get anywhere. The goals of each individual become dwarfed by the sense of unity birthed from their 800 mile adventure. Significantly, it is young Olives naive hope to be Little Miss Sunshine that creates a consciously shared and cherished moment between all characters, dead and alive. Olives determination destroys her fathers notion of winners and losers. Surrounded by people in denial about themselves, Olive embraces the contradictions, consequently providing a metaphoric mirror for the rest.

    The film celebrates failure. Within the winning film, are desperate losers. Steve Carells, Uncle Frank, discusses the necessity of suffering. Being introduced to him after a failed suicide attempt, Franks words seem genuine despite their irony. The diverse talent of Carell is most acutely witnessed as he reacquaints himself with the family at the dinner table. The intrusion of Frank into his sisters family plays as a blessing in a family needing of fresh, albeit fatalistic, perspective.

    Little Miss Sunshine depicts family as an undefinable ideal. The movie grows much the way a family does; not often in expected directions, but forever adapting to inevitable change. It isnt until the family sees the path they have taken, before they realize they have a home to return.
  4. Oct 16, 2011
    The journey of a dysfunctional family to their youngest child stardom leads us into a satirical, poignant and really funny adventure.
  5. Oct 24, 2011
    Little Miss Sunshine revels in the fact its cleverer than you are and that is not an insult. This highly intelligent black comedy is so fast paced, hilarious and bizarre that not only will you laugh pretty much the entire 90 minutes but you will struggle to keep up. The story tells the tale of Olive (Abigail Breslin) who has qualified for a beauty pageant in California so her parents (Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette) decide to go on a trip in their old camper van across the country. They are joined by Oliveâ Expand
  6. Aug 17, 2013
    It's not too often that family films tug so endlessly on the heart strings, or a film which offers real and genuinely funny moments, characters and adventures all on a road trip to the most unlikely of places for the most unlikely of people. The film is a true example of how it's the simple things which change the rules entirely, and Little Miss Sunshine offers a range of characters all with different dreams, hopes and outlooks in life, and they all come from the same family.
    The comedy road trip is a cunning and daring attempt to break from the clutches of similar scenarios and situations, we have some of the most interesting characters to grace the screen who all embrace their part and set the standard, we have the mother, Sheryl (Toni Collette) who struggles to look after her two children and her depressed brother Frank (Steve Carell) who recently attempted to commit suicide, her work-oriented husband Richard (Greg Kinnear), a motivational speaker who simply cannot catch a break, Edwin, played by Alan Arkin, the sharp-tongued grandfather who is very close to one of the children, Olive (Abigail Breslin), who is the little girl with big dreams and who truly lights up the screen in every possible way. She has been accepted into a beauty pageant 800 miles away and the whole family reluctantly agree to take the trip to support the young girl.
    Paul Dano plays the other child, a 17 year old who broods and speaks very little during the film as he is having a vow of silence until he fulfils his dream of being a test pilot. Each member of the family have their own grievances which come into play as the film unfolds, and they realise just how much they need each other. The film holds many messages of family values but its underlying themes really hit home the most, it categorises everything in life into simple reactions from other people, preparation, dreams, routine and perseverance, but also despair. Its at these moments that realisation can hit, whether something may not be for you or if you simply don't fit in, its not down to anybody else to say otherwise, being yourself is the most important part and the point of it all.
    Much like the job of Richard, the film is subtle and light-hearted life lesson from the excellent writing of Michael Arndt, who holds the equally brilliant Toy Story 3 credit to his name, he manages to use various situations that can be summed up through equal means, Olive is the little girl who lets nothing get her down, and Abigail Breslin simply fits the role like a shoe. Steve Carell plays a character who has seen it all and simply isn't happy with it, and needs his dysfunctional family around him. Greg Kinnear delivers a riveting performance of a man who doesn't seem to pay close attention to his family, but this the exact reason why he struggles through, to support his family and not be seen as a failure. There to bring a realisitc approach to their situations is Alan Arkin, who tells it as it is and nothing more.
    A masterful yet subtle film that weaves in and out of every detail of a simple problem and lays it all out on the table to try and work out, with fantastic performances from each cast member who offer various explanations from their characters perspective that make this a must see show for a bit of comic relief and to get a lesson in being yourself.
  7. Feb 20, 2012
    it's a classic. It's a refreshing movie with good actosr. It's a dark in some ways but you feel good after seing it. The atmosphere, the colors are perfect. Jason Reitman made one of his best movie with '' Little Miss sushine '' .
  8. Mar 14, 2012
    Little Miss Sunshine is one of those movies that you could keep watching over and over again and not get bored. It's an Heart Felt movie about the importance of "family together can beat the odds". It delivers brilliant performances by Alan Arkin, Steve Carell, Greg Kinnear and little Abigail Breslin. Toni Collette is the mother who holds the whole family together, and Paul Dano delivers a solid performance as the Color-Blinded Dwayne who dreams of becoming a jet pilot. It's a shame that many don't like it, but it's definitely a 'Solid A' Movie which is beautifully directed. Expand
  9. Jul 8, 2012
    Absolutely brilliant. These are the sort of films that should always be made, feel good and heart-warming. We start with a family torn apart but by the end, brought together by their daughter, Abigail Breslin. Breslin is brilliant at embodying the feeling of childhood and how at that age we all have a dream. Alan Arkin is even better, gibing a short but memorable performance as the heroine taking grandfather, every scene he steals with his kind but foul mouthed ways. Steve Carrell gives a performance also which should have given him an Oscar nod. But, the best part of this film is the script, not many films have a script that give a sense of realism and humour (the scenes where the family push the van our by far the best), and give a chance for all actors to shine. It is such a simplistic formula, but the writers take advantage by adding side stories and real depths to these characters so it feel like they themselves our telling the story as if we know them. The movie as a whole is superb with at the most one flaw, everything just seems to work perfectly and put all the good things you need in a film together what do you get? Little Miss Sunshine. Expand
  10. Mar 11, 2013
    It provides some of thee best performances in film hiistory, Little Miss Sunshine is fun to watch not only as a crazy family comedy but also as a serious and thoughtful drama as well.
  11. Jul 7, 2013
    The Hoovers have dreams. Dad Richard imagines himself becoming the next Tony Robbins. Mom Sheryl dreams of a big happy family. Grandpa wants to go out in a blaze of glory. Uncle Frank longs to be recognized as the nation's pre-eminent Proust scholar. Brother Dwayne wants to be a fighter pilot. And then there's Olive. The pudgy, bespectacled 7-year-old wants to be Miss America. Put all of these dreams in an old VW van and send them to Southern California for a beauty pageant, and you get Little Miss Sunshine. This is the first feature-length project for the husband and wife directorial duo of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, both highly respected for their work in the music video world. Perhaps nicknamed the "Little Movie That Could," Little Miss Sunshine took five years to make and, thanks to its warm reception at 2006's Sundance Film Festival, is finally seeing a U.S. release—albeit in limited theaters. As its Sundance pedigree might suggest, Little Miss Sunshine has an eccentric veneer, but don't let that fool you. The script is far more conventional than its indie pop soundtrack (DeVotchKa and Sufjan Stevens provide the highlights) would have you believe, right down to unfortunate blips on the narrative radar involving porn magazines and state troopers that could have come straight from Super Troopers and a moment of sibling bonding that's all but gift wrapped. This said, there is a zany ethos to Little Miss Sunshine that, despite its most clichéd moments, stokes a lovely poignancy in this look at family life and the capacity for hope in the face of absurdity and calamity. Much of the absurdity is provided by the Little Miss Sunshine contest—the attempt to get there and the pageant itself. The garish makeup and skimpy dresses on the pre-pubescent contestants is all the more jarring after spending much of the movie with the gawky Olive. Indeed, her presence at the pageant and her cringe-inducing "talent" are a sort of defacto exposé on the darkness that lies just beneath the sparkly sequins. Each of the family members is, in one way or another, grappling with darkness in their own lives. Indeed, the script does a commendable job of presenting distinct characters—each person a universe of motivations and morals unto themselves—instead of presenting them as one griping and moaning familial mass. As such, different viewers are likely to resonate with different characters. And yet, the bond forged by their proximity to each other—by the fact they're family—is undeniable. I don't think it's a coincidence that the broken down VW van eventually requires a group effort to get in gear. The cast is universally strong. Toni Collette doesn't seem to be physically capable of turning in a poor performance, as I have yet to see her do so since she burst onto the scene in 1994's critically acclaimed Muriel's Wedding. As a suicidal academic, Steve Carell proves his acting mettle extends far beyond his comedic turns in TV's "The Office" and last year's blockbuster The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Greg Kinnear, as Richard, uses his innate likeability to make even the most annoying of characters sympathetic. Thankfully, Richard's desperate need to be a winner is road kill on this trip. As is Grandpa. Alan Arkin's a dirty old man with a heart of gold (or at least silver). Expand
  12. Jul 27, 2013
    Little Miss Sunshine, winner of the Sundance Film Festival in 2006, is a dark comedy about life, love, and finding purpose in life. It is delightfully simple, funny, and heartwarming. It will make you laugh, make you angry, and possibly cause you to shed a few tears. If you are into the indie genre Little Miss Sunshine is not only a must see, but a must purchase for your personal collection.
  13. Mar 29, 2014
    This is a beautiful film. A lovely message, really inspiring. The acting is fantastic, unusually good for some young actors. Steve Carell gives an excellent performance, making me wish he was in more serious films. Fantastic film. Really.
  14. Jul 28, 2014
    Although few realize, is a movie nothing obvious that uses metaphors to talk about life, the stereotype and conformism. Is much more than a story about winning or losing, is a story about living, try, fall, and after push our van to the right path. It's delicious, is complex and is unforgettable. A movie to never forget.
  15. Aug 4, 2014
    This film is darkly comic and has a great acting and character development. It some cheesy scenes though. This multiple academy award winning movie deserves it's awards.

Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. 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.
  2. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    Diverting and often funny enough, largely thanks (as is not unusual in cases like this) to its cast.
  3. Reviewed by: Duane Byrge
    A brainy blend of farce and heart, this is one of those movies that veteran moviegoers complain they don't make anymore.