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PCR # 337  (Vol. 7, No. 36)  This edition is for the week of September 4--10, 2006.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Little Miss Sunshine"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three and a half stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

Labor Day Magic 2006  by Will Moriaty
"Little Miss Sunshine"  by Mike Smith
Suggestion  by Mark Terry
Congratulations, Katherine!...VHS Grindhouse - “Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde”  by Andy Lalino
Irony, Defined....Is The Head Dead Yet?...Is Her Name Pronounced Su Li?....My Favorite Films, Part 36: "Superman The Movie"  by Mike Smith
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Fox Searchlight     
Starring: Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Alan Arkin and Abigail Breslin
Directed by: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 41 mins

Finally opening wide after weeks of great word-of-mouth, "Little Miss Sunshine" proves that when a good movie hits theatres, people will find it.

Meet the Hoovers. Father Richard (Kinnear) is a motivational speaker who can't motivate. Grandpa (Arkin) enjoys porno mags and was recently kicked out of his retirement community for snorting heroin. Brother Dwayne (Paul Dano) studies Nietzsche and has sworn to remain silent until he's admitted to the Air Force Academy. Daughter Olive (Breslin) constantly watches past Miss America broadcasts in hopes of one day wearing that great tiara. Uncle Frank (Carell) has lost his job, his lover and his will to live all at the same time. And mom, Sheryl (Collette) is doing her best to hold them all together. Earlier in the year, while visiting relatives, Olive placed 2nd in a regional Little Miss Sunshine pageant. Without notice, the winner had to relinquish her title (even though the girls are only eight, diet pill abuse is suspected ) and Olive is notified that she has three days to get to California to vie for the state title. Easier said then done.

Speaking not as a critic, but as a movie-lover, I get great joy when a "little" film gets its just recognition. Films like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Garden State" start out on a few screens and then grow. And those films all seem to have two things in common: a great script and a great cast. "Little Miss Sunshine" has both in spades. Kinnear, Collette and Arkin are past Academy Award nominees and in this film they show that those nominations weren't undeserved. Carell, best known as "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," shines in a role that requires some dramatic skills. As the unspeaking Dwayne, Dano delivers a lot with just a nod and a scowl. But the star here is ten-year-old Breslin, who you may recall as Mel Gibson's daughter in "Signs". Breslin gives a performance that belies her years and establishes herself as the best actress in her age group to come along since Dakota Fanning. The cast works together with an ease that's almost criminal.

High praise also for Michael Arndt and his freshman screenplay. Honestly written and performed, the story flows smoothly with equal doses of humor and tragedy. There are so many ways this film could have gone but credit all involved for being sincere and real in the storytelling. And a special shout out to the old V W bus that plays an important role in the movie.

This film opened five weeks ago on seven screens. In the entire country. So I can understand how you may have missed it. Now that it is on more then 1400 screens, you have no excuse. On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Little Miss Sunshine"  Three and a half stars

This week's movie review of "Little Miss Sunshine" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2006, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.