From The Movie Snob
Little Miss Sunshine (A-). This movie made some news when Fox paid a ton of money for it at one of those film festivals, and I would say that Fox made a good call. By turns funny and poignant, this is the story of the very dysfunctional Hoover family. The dad (Greg Kinnear, Baby Mama) is obsessed with getting a book deal based on his nine-step self-help program for turning losers into winners. Uncle Frank (Steve Carell, Café Society) is a homosexual Proust scholar who has just survived a suicide attempt. Grandpa (Alan Arkin, Argo) is a foul-mouthed old cuss who got kicked out of a nursing home for doing drugs, and teenaged Dwayne (Paul Dano, Ruby Sparks) stopped talking nine months ago and does nothing except read Nietschze. The versatile Toni Collette (Muriel’s Wedding) plays long-suffering wife and mother Cheryl, and then there is cute seven-year-old Olive (Abigail Breslin, Maggie), who is the emotional center of the family. She gets a chance to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant, and the whole family piles into a dilapidated VW van for the long drive from Albuquerque to California so that Olive can have her chance. Misadventures ensue, along with moments of surprising tenderness. I liked it a lot — but do take the R rating seriously.