Saturday, September 30, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Dear Lord, I hope this will be the nadir of the Sundance-approved quirk-com. Codirectors Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris try to differentiate themselves from the likes of Garden State by skewing the jokes darker and more cynical, which means there's attempts to find humor in suicide, failure and old people snorting heroin. But the cynicism doesn't spring from any sort of worldview or twisted outlook on life -- it's mere designer darkness, liberally applied like varnish to the gummy family-values humor at the center of the screenplay in a canny attempt to make the film sell better. (That, of course, is the only true cynical thing about this film.) You can tell that Dayton & Faris's hearts weren't into the blacker stuff -- despite the myriad clumsy attempts at jocularity in Little Miss Sunshine, the only moments that ring with any sort of life are the warm squishy moments, like the bit in the motel room with Alan Arkin assuaging the fears of Abigail Breslin. The lone comedic routine that does work is the "Super Freak" scene at the end, as it has both a proper satiric target upon which to drip its causticness and a heedless, infectious performance from Ms. Breslin; everything else clangs to Earth, reeking from the stench of sitcom predictability and faux-edginess.

Grade: D+


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