Johnathan Dayton and Valerie Faris are partners is life (as in married) and in business (as in successful makers of commercials for umpteen years). Maybe it took such a combination to bring LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE to the screen without slighting either the family angle of the story, or the sly visual vocabulary used to portray it. When I talked with the couple on July 17, 2006, both topics came up, as did the universal appeal that dysfunctional film families hold for audiences, and the dangers of packing actors into a small, un-air conditioned VW bus in the middle of the desert.
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE is an acerbic comedy that proves that even the most dysfunctional families can pull together when they need to. And be wildly funny in the process. In this case, getting the youngest daughter to the eponymous contest despite the unforgiving desert from Albuquerque to Los Angeles, a balky VW bus, a father who dreams of being a motivational superstar are hanging in the balance, a son with a vow of silence, and a grandfather who snorts heroin, and a brother-in-law who is both suicidal and the nation’s foremost Proust scholar, and in the midst of all this is a mother who is trying to keep it all together using pretty much baling wire and chewing gum. The film stars Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carrell, Alan Arking, Paul Dano, and Abigail Breslin. Dayton and Faris directed from a script by Michael Arndt.