Monday, February 12, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine

Last weekend I saw Little Miss Sunshine, a tragicomedy directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.

[spoiler warning: I promise not to tell you how the film ends. However you might want to stop reading here in case you're a spoiler freak]

I didn't have great expectations about the film. In fact I thought it'd perfectly fit the Fox comedy stereotype (some examples running across theatres at the moment). It did not. While the sense of humour used throughout the film isn't the high-brow style you'd expect from a film by, say, Woody Allen, it isn't dumb or simple at all.

The film, which has already been qualified as an indie road-movie, tells the story of an imperfect family on their way across the US on a VW van to a beauty contest, Little Miss Sunshine, which Olive, the girl who is the main character of the film, pretends to win.

One cannot appreciate the beauty of the story without knowing about the characters' personalities, and how they differ from what is assumed to be normal. For instance, Richard (Olive's father) is a motivational speaker who pretends to earn money by giving lectures on his 9 steps for transforming losers into winners; Olive's uncle, Frank, is a renowned Proust scholar who attempted suicide after an unsuccessful romance with one of his male students; Dwayne (Olive's brother) is a fanatical follower of Friedrich Nietzsche, and has taken a vow of silence which allows him to escape from his family and pursue his dream of becoming an Air Force pilot; Olive's grandfather, Edwin, is a drug addict who snorts heroin, but he also holds a very friendly relationship with his granddaughter, as he is her coach.

I enjoyed the film very much and therefore I recommend it.

I'd like to conclude this review with some of the quotes I found most significant or funny:
Dwayne: I wish I could just sleep until I was eighteen and skip all this crap-high school and everything-just skip it.
Frank: You know Marcel Proust?
Dwayne: He's the guy you teach.
Frank: Yeah. French writer. Total loser. Never had a real job. Unrequited love affairs. Gay. Spent 20 years writing a book almost no one reads. But he's also probably the greatest writer since Shakespeare. Anyway, he uh... he gets down to the end of his life, and he looks back and decides that all those years he suffered, Those were the best years of his life, 'cause they made him who he was. All those years he was happy? You know, total waste. Didn't learn a thing. So, if you sleep until you're 18... Ah, think of the suffering you're gonna miss. I mean high school? High school-those are your prime suffering years. You don't get better suffering than that.

Dwayne: You know what? Fuck beauty contests. Life is one fucking beauty contest after another. School, then college, then work... Fuck that. And fuck the Air Force Academy. If I want to fly, I'll find a way to fly. You do what you love, and fuck the rest

Grandpa: Losers are people who are so afraid of not winning, they don't even try.

Richard: Sarcasm is the refuge of losers.
Frank: [Sarcastically] really?
Richard: Sarcasm is losers trying to bring winners down to their level.
Frank: [Sarcastically] Thank you for opening my eyes to what a loser I am!

Olive: I'd like to dedicate this to my grandpa, who showed me these moves.
Pageant MC: Aww, that is so sweet.
[Audience applauds]
Pageant MC: Is he here? Where's your grandpa right now?
Olive: In the trunk of our car.

Grandpa: So are you gettin' any?
Dwayne: [shakes his head no]
Grandpa: Christ! what are you? 15? You gotta be gettin' that young stuff!

Grandpa: Listen to me, I got no reason to lie to you, don't make the same mistakes I made when I was young. Fuck a lotta women kid, not just one woman, a lotta women.

Olive: Grandpa, am I pretty?
Grandpa: You are the most beautiful girl in the world.
Olive: You're just saying that.
Grandpa: No! I'm madly in love with you and it's not because of your brains or your personality.

Frank: I take it you didn't like it at Sunset Manor?
Sheryl: Frank...
Grandpa: Are you kidding me? It was a fucking paradise. They got pool... They got golf... Now I'm stuck with Mr. Happy here, sleeping on a fucking sofa. Look, I know you are a homo and all, but maybe you can appreciate this. You go to one of those places, there's four women for every guy. Can you imagine what that's like?
Frank: You must have been very busy.
Grandpa: Ho oh. I had second degree burns on my johnson, I kid you not.
Frank: Really?
Grandpa: Forget about it.

Frank: Who is that? Nietzsche? So you stopped talking because of Friedrich Nietzsche? Far out.

Olive: Why were you unhappy?
Frank: I fell in love with someone...
[interrupted by Grandpa blowing his nose]
Frank: ... who didn't love me back.
Olive: Who?
Frank: One of my grad students. I was very much in love with him.
Olive: *Him*? You fell in love with a boy?
Frank: Very much so.
Olive: That's silly.
Grandpa: [under his breath] There's another word for it...

Kirby: Your packet has tickets in it, and there's your badge number.
Richard: Okay.
Kirby: Is there anything else?
Richard: Uh, yeah. Is there a funeral home around here?

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