“Families are like potatoes. The best parts are underground…” – Bacon

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I can’t recommend “Little Miss Sunshine” thoroughly enough.

The Hoover family from Alberquerque is a dysfunctional one, but they are lovingly united by their neuroses.

Richard Hoover (Greg Kinnear) plays the motivational speaker and head of the family, but his 9 step program to success is a failure. His wife Sheryl, played by the very androgynous Toni Colette, struggles with cigarettes as she holds the family together. Richard’s heroin-snorting father (Alan Arkin) has been kicked out of a nursing home and is spending most of his time coaching seven-year old Olive (Abigail Breslin) on her dance act for the upcoming Little Miss Sunshine pageant. The dance is the funniest I’ve ever seen.

The comedy of misproportions gets better when Sheryl takes in her gay brother Frank (Steve Carell, whose deadpan sarcasm trounces Bill Murray’s), a Marcel Proust scholar and university professor who has just recovered from a botched suicide attempt after losing his lover to another professor. He is given a cot in teenager Dwayne’s bedroom (Paul Dano). Dwayne has taken a vow of silence and dreams of escaping home by joining the Air Force, and he spends his time reading Thus Spake Zarathustra.

Directors Jonathan Daydon and Valerie Faris have thrown this rag-tag jumble of characters on a road trip to Redondo Suites where Olive’s pageant is held. What happens thereafter is pure lunacy.

Kudos to the directors/screenplay writers who have wrought a very poignant chemistry amongst this ensemble cast. There’s a very comfortable moral of how happiness can be found even in failure and that if you cannot get rid of your family skeletons, you might as well make them dance.

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