Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

The Hoover family epitomizes indie-film dysfunction. Dad is a gasbag. Mom is perennially put-upon. Grandpa snorts drugs and advises his Nietzsche-reading teenage grandson to sleep with as many girls as possible. There's a hapless houseguest, too: a suicidal uncle. At the center of this maelstrom is Olive, a guileless seven-year-old beauty-queen wannabe who doesn't stand a chance at the film's namesake pageant. But the movie isn't just an assemblage of quirks. Amid the arguing, the Hoovers manage to pull together in surprising and funny ways. The film's high point is a closing dance sequence that can easily compete with Napoleon Dynamite in the annals of unlikely stage revues.