IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

‘Little Miss Sunshine’ burns brightly

In this edition of the “Critic's Corner,” “Today” movie critic Gene Shalit reviews the new film, starring Greg Kinnear and Steve Carell.
/ Source: TODAY

Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Alan Arkin form part of the ensemble cast in the new film “Little Miss Sunshine,” which is now opening in more and more theaters all across the country. “Today” Gene Shalit says “Little Miss Sunshine” is a ray of hope for moviegoers.

“Little Miss Sunshine” is not overcast. It’s exactly the right cast for this frictional family of three generations riding in one beat-up old van with a broken clutch from Albuquerque to California, where 7-year-old Olive (Abigail Breslin) will compete in a kiddie cutie contest. These characters rarely help each other, but this once they push together for little Olive.

In the front seat, Olive is happily stuffed between Mom (Toni Collette) and driving Dad (Greg Kinnear), hatching a get-rich scheme. The back seat’s another story. Uncle Frank (Steve Carell) is just back from a suicide attempt. Free-spirited Gramps (Alan Arkin) has been expelled from the nursing home for behavior unbecoming a grandfather. Young Dwayne (Paul Dano) has vowed permanent silence 'til he’s accepted by the Air Force Academy. “Little Miss Sunshine” is a trip, swooping from high spirits to depression to its riotous conclusion of bumps and grinds. It’s funny, it’s wackily uplifting, it’s one family’s odyssey that’s merrily odd to see.