23 December 2006

Review: Little Miss Sunshine


Genre: Comedy

Little Miss Sunshine is above all a simple film; in all its aspects it never once strives to accomplish what may be considered risky or ambitious, preferring instead to maintain a strong tone of artlessness and quotidianism that surely comes across to the viewer very clearly. Though that statement was not meant as a critique, doubtless is that some will have interpreted it that way, the very same way in fact in which one can misinterpret the film as an important or eminent one. (That indeed was meant as a critique, though not of the film but rather of its fawning critical audience.) For, Little Miss Sunshine lacks both the pretense and the ambition to be great, al be these qualities pedestalled by the film's characters. Primarily, the screenplay, though showing definite potential throughout the first half, fails unbelievably into the emotional shoulder of its main course during the second half, after the point at which the grandfather, by the way wonderfully played by Alan Arkin, dies. After then, it retreats from its bold and iconic/laconic disposition into cinematic regularity, the dreadful in memoriam of the predecessing, lest (dear me!) they be forgotten, their legacies unfulfilled. A film built on such a decomposition cannot well stand up, even if varying toadies ushered props in the form of high praise in, to elevate it. The only outstanding parts of the production were its cinematography, the camera beautfully held in a way from holding in which Marie Antoinette surely could have benefitted; its art direction that, unlike its decorated subject, never puts aside its passionate and determined quirkiness; and its ensemble acting performance, much due to the excellence of Mr. Arkin and the delight of the capable Toni Collette and relatively new Paul Dano. The direction was also noteworthy.
Yet, one must remember, this critique is not a bad thing, nor does it seek to make the film out to be a bad thing, in the least! Above all, Little Miss Sunshine is undoubtedly an enjoyable film. It is also, however, undoubtedly an unimportant film and those people who seek to make it important are those doing the injustice, not the filmmakers. It is useless to try dolling an entity up, in order that it may be a thing that is clearly never has been, was intended to be, or ought to be, much as useless is dolling up little children for parade in sexually frustrated and confusing beauty pageants. So, I only critique the critics, whom I recommend should learn to distinguish fun fare from important film and should desist from unwisely and unduly bolstering the former.
I recommend the film highly, to and for anyone interested in having an insouciant time.

Grade: B

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