Saturday, February 10, 2007

Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing.

I saw the appalling reality-show trainwreck "Showbiz Moms and Dads" on A&E a year or two ago, so when I heard that there was a movie out involving a young girls' beauty pageant, I thought I would take a pass on it. This past Tuesday, I went to WalMart, eagerly anticipating the purchase of "The Departed" on DVD. However, I had my dates wrong, and "The Departed" isn't out until this coming Tuesday. I had seen that "Little Miss Sunshine" had won a few awards, and I actually got around to reading a very brief review of it, so I figured, "what the hell?" and picked it up.

The Hoover family in "Little Miss Sunshine" may be the quirkiest movie family since "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" came out in the early 1990s. Unlike "Gilbert Grape," however, this movie doesn't hit so close to my own life as to make it difficult to watch. "Little Miss Sunshine" is a commentary on the obsession we have with being winners. I was expecting a light, fluffy comedy, but that's not what I got. It's slightly dark, actually, with the members of the family failing at one thing or another as the movie rolls along. The beauty pageant at the end, however, is fabulously funny. The quirk factor of this movie is high, and I can see why it got an Oscar nomination for best picture.


Sideon said...

Excellent movies that you mentioned. "Little Sunshine" was much darker than I thought it would be, but enjoyable.

You mentioned "What's Eating Gilbert Grape." That movie is the only movie to date that has made me sob. I'm not talking the polite and quiet Demi Moore kind of crying with tears faling slowly down my face... no, that movie devastated me worse than the night I broke up with a bf and still agreed to see "Titanic" ( heart will go on...).

Gilbert Grape. If there's any movie that could abstractly and surrealistically capture the essence of my life and my family... that one was it. In the movie theatre, I held it together through the credits. Through the theatre and foyer and to the parking lot. In the car, while my partner drove, I lost it... all the way home. I was still crying while I was brushing my teeth for bed, 30 minutes later.

Anonymous said...

"Sunshine" killed me. It was more than the themes, to me, but about how real the people were. They were so real with all their insecurities, desires, and vulnerabilities and the way they interacted. They were all complex, even the father whom I started out despising, but then when he loses everything it's heart breaking, and then his wife who is worried about the family can't see him in his pain. So real, people hurting and looking past each other as they suffer together alone. And through all that, they actually do love each other.

When I saw Gilbert Grape, it was at the dollar movies with my roommates at BYU, one of whom I was deeply in love with and so distracted by all that implied that all I remember is dicapprio up on the tower and the gynormous housebound mom.

P.S. it really irritates me that dicapprio is such a good actor, because he bugs the crap out of me.

Randy said...

"Gilbert Grape" has quite an effect on people. I rarely get emotional about movies, and I hide my emotions well generally speaking, but that one got to me. Arnie Grape reminds me a great deal of my older son, so I feel a personal connection to that film. I wept at the very end of "Schindler's List" too, when the survivors and their descendants walked to Oskar Schindler's grave. Maybe it was all stored up inside after watching hours of nazi butchery. About "Titanic"--half way through, I told DW I wanted to go to the lobby and set myself on fire. I was that bored. Di Caprio was much, much better in "Gilbert Grape" and "This Boy's Life" than he was in "Titanic."

This is Steve Carell's year. "Little Miss Sunshine" won the Screen Actors' Guild's best ensemble performance (SAG's version of the best picture award), and "The Office" won SAG's best television comedy award. Yeah, Todd, those characters were very real in their complexity and their individual suffering.

Sideon said...


"About "Titanic"--half way through, I told DW I wanted to go to the lobby and set myself on fire.

Oh gawd, thank you for making my morning.

Anonymous said...

I agree about Steve Carell. That opening scene with him in the hospital just sitting there staring--it's got to be one of the best scenes of movie acting (face only) that I've ever seen. The bleak pain in his face and eyes is incredibly raw and naked. The movie had barely started and you knew nothing yet about his story, but I already felt emotionally walloped.

Also, I must put in a word for Alan Arkin here. Is he just a masterful master of acting or what? He was so totally in the skin of that character--just made it look so easy. And the character was such a bastard and yet that moment when he came from the back of the van to comfort and encourage his son--it was such an emotional u-turn in some ways for the relationship between the two characters but he (and Kinnear as well) made it ring completely true. Best movie I've seen in ages all around.

Oy. I'm blathering. I'll just add that I wanted to stand up and cheer when Leo finally sank to Davy Jones' locker at the end of Titanic.