I watched Little Miss Sunshine tonight, with the very best hopes of digging into something worth watching. So few movies in the last few years have been worth the money spent making them and I was most excited after hearing from literally everyone who saw this film that it was a great movie. I think Little Miss Sunshine is the most overrated, non-funny, slightly depressing thing that I've seen in years. Let me state my reasons:
1) Greg Kinnear cannot act. He just cannot. This man is as wooden and incapable of good acting as William Hung is of good singing. I have hated Greg Kinnear in literally everything I have seen him in. In fact, it has gotten to the point where I will deliberately NOT see films he is in just because I hate him that much. I had a twinge of apprehension when I saw him on the cover of the DVD for Little Miss Sunshine, and I went ahead and watched it anyway. He was/is, just as awful as ever. If only Greg Kinnear was the only reason to not see this film, though...
2) Steve Carell turns in the first performance I have ever seen him in where I thought he was absolutely in no way funny. This man breathes and eats funny, he is funny just smiling a certain way, and yet, somehow, they managed to make him absolutely un-funny in this movie. Nice job.
3) Yes the little girl is absolutely terrific. Every instant she is on the camera, she lights the whole thing right up. But at the end we are treated to a tour-de-force of America's Creepiest Pasttime: the child beauty pageant, including an incredibly disturbing and not-funny pervert in the audience. Did anyone actually laugh at the ending? A little girl entering a meat-grinder of looks-obsessed glamour? The Tammie Faye Baker pageant judge and the Jerry Springer pageant moms? God, I hope not. I find it slightly insulting that the writer of this film would consider me such a typically jaded American that I could find a way to laugh at these uber-depressing trainwreck reasons that foreign countries hate us.
4) The dead grandfather, no matter how good Arkin might have played him, is as cliched and un-funny in 2006 as it was when Chevy Chase did it in Lampoon's Vacation in 1985.
5) The joke about the VW with a bad transmission? Not funny. Just really not funny. The long shots of them running to pop the clutch? Boring after the eighth time.
6) Constant interjection of profoundly depressing topical matter that not only was better acted than the humor, but took up more screen time. It seems almost like the people who made this film set out to make something funny, but then halfway through they decided that it would be better to just paint a portrait of a family who are all on the edge of emotional breakdown. Well, I have news for you Michael Arendt (whose only other writing credit is Toy Story 3), you can't even hold a dim candle to the Todd Solondz films you were trying to emulate. Little Miss Sunshine tried to be a cross between Road Trip, American Beauty, and Welcome to the Dollhouse, and ended up being more like a cross between The Royal Tannenbaums and Jerry Springer.
Most importantly, and perhaps most telling about why I hated this movie was the snarky, intelligensia attitude that it had. It was completely non-transparent, and I felt like I was sitting in the room with the writer as he pounded out his little joke about middle Middle America on his Apple PowerBook while sipping some overpriced designer coffee. This movie felt a lot to me like The Royal Tannenbaums. I know a lot of people that liked that movie. Does anyone really think that winsome, wistful, depressing cliches equal laughter? Where's the cleverness in showing people getting hurt or setting themselves up for real-life disappointment? I don't mind movies that try to mix humor with some seriousness. Something like "Forrest Gump" walked this tightrope admirably. Maybe if Ron Howard had directed Little Miss Sunshine, it would have a) not included the just godawful Kinnear, and b) actually had some genuinely funny jokes in it. No, I didn't think the cop/porn bit was funny, no I didn't think that the Nietzchie/silence thing was funny, and NO, I absolutely did not think that the child beauty pageant sequence was funny. I really found this entire film to be flat, emotionless, depressing, and un-funny.
So you know what, all you people who told me that this was a great film? You're full of shit.
From the Rotten Tomatoes forums:
"That was comedy? Was there anything at all funny in this whatsoever? If that is comedy than I'm a comedic genius. You should see my impression of Christa McAullife's dad watching the Challenger explode."
My thoughts exactly.