Last night my friend Cindy and I went to an advanced screening of Little Miss Sunshine, which stars 40 Year Old Virgin's Steve Carell, Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette. The independent film recently did well at Sundance and is about a professor (Carell) who recently committed suicide and is now in the care of his sister (Collette) and living with her wacky family. As a group they begrudgingly and frantically travel in an old VW van from New Mexico to California to enter their little daughter Olive in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. Along the way there are several mishaps that force the family to become closer and reveal their neurosis and love for one another. It's cute and had me laughing several times. Although it started a little slow and odd the film gradually built as their trip went along. I literally felt like I was in the back seat with them.
It's also well acted, especially by the teenage son Dwayne (Paul Dano) who has taken a vow of silence and only writes on a steno pad to communicate. Alan Arkin plays the heroin smoking, sex maniac, but loving grandfather. Carrell as one of the main leads plays a serious role in this film, but because he is able to play the character so straight and dryly it comes off funny in a lot of scenes without being in your face. I use the term "straight" not in the sexual sense since his character is actually gay. Being a comic he easily could have turned the role into a flamboyant mess, but instead the fact that he's gay is only an underlying character trait. Overall I enjoyed it more than the many enjoyable independent films that I saw at Tribeca recently. Speaking of which, The Groomsmen comes to theaters soon too, but I'd say see Little Miss Sunshine first, it's better. Here's a tidbit, the movie actually took five years to make, mostly due to financial reasons.
Little Miss Sunshine opens July 26th.