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Little Miss Sunshine

Super freaks
By PETER KEOUGH  |  February 17, 2007
2.5 2.5 Stars

Like little kids spouting dirty words in certain comedies, this film from first-time directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris undermines the subversive with the self-conscious. But it’s still funny. We have the usual suspects: the foul-mouthed grandfather (Alan Arkin) who gets kicked out of a rest home for using heroin; the Nietzschean teen (Paul Dano) who’s taken a vow of silence until he becomes a test pilot; the insufferable dad (Greg Kinnear) whose dream of selling his success program seems doomed to failure; and the inevitable, long-suffering Mom (Toni Collette). Uncle Frank (Steve Carell), gay, wry, and suicidal, and seven-year-old Olive (Abigail Breslin) almost break the stereotypical mold. The latter wants to compete in the title contest, and her dream turns the film into a Sisyphean road movie with a Diane Arbus–like final stop. Contrived and sometimes inspired, Sunshine left me with renewed appreciation for Rick James’s “Super Freak.”

On the Web
Little Miss Sunshine official site: http://www2.foxsearchlight.com/littlemisssunshine/

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