Little Miss Sunshine

I spent the day doing work for my classes. I discovered that one of my former students had a twin sister, so I wondered if the twin ever sat in for my student without my noticing. After I was done with my lecture, I went home to discover the World Series game was still going on. I didn’t want Yoenis Cespedes to be the hero of the game, and that was the case after 14 innings. I wanted to watch “Kagemusha,” but the running time was too long for so late at night, so I went with “Little Miss Sunshine.” I think it did gain something in high definition, but the difference wasn’t big. I hadn’t realized that Bryan Cranston was in this movie. I didn’t recognize him in his scene as Stan Grossman. The previous times I’d seen this movie were before I saw any of “Breaking Bad.” Most child actors are bad, but I thought Abigail Breslin was pretty good as Olive, a seven-year old aspiring beauty queen. One of her best moments was her scream after hearing the phone message. Greg Kinnear was believable as Richard, a jackass father who can’t stop talking about his nine-step success program. Paul Dano is Dwayne, the teenager who wants to be a pilot but has taken a vow of silence until he reaches his goal. Steve Carell is the suicidal Proust scholar. I could appreciate some of the things he said after I read the Proust book on Monday. Toni Colette is the mother Sheryl, trying to keep everything together. Alan Arkin is the grandfather who has reached an age where he feels he can speak and act outrageously. I thought one of the funniest scenes was him in the car giving life advice to Dwayne. I felt before and I definitely feel now that a big flaw in the script was two coincidences, the first having Carell running into someone he knew at a convenience store on the highway. The other was Dwayne discovering something about his vision just as the family was approaching the hotel in Redondo Beach. I wondered exactly where that field was. The other big hilarious scenes were the hospital, with the unusual decision that Richard makes, and Olive’s dance routine. I did laugh again at the cop making the discovery of what was in the back of the van. Comedies tend to have less impact over time after you’ve seen them a few times. I found this movie not quite as funny after all these years. It’s been nine years since this movie was released. This was one of my favorite movies of the millennium, but maybe I’ll have to reassess. It mixes the seriousness of family emotion with wacky comedy in an amusing way, although I don’t think it reaches the level of Billy Wilder, Woody Allen, and Preston Sturges. I couldn’t help thinking about how these characters’ dreams were being shot down. What is going to happen to them after they return home? The special features included an alternate ending showing the Hoover family at a rest stop with another bucket of Dinah’s Fried Chicken. I kept wondering how that chicken tasted. I wondered if the family got into any trouble for what they did with Arkin. The deleted scenes showed a lot of Dano and Carell together outside the hotel. I could see why that footage was cut because they didn’t really have much time to get back to the beauty contest. I think this movie must have increased the popularity of Rick James’ “Super Freak” quite a lot. I have seen many copies of “Little Miss Sunshine” in the bargain bins of stores, and I can see why. How many times can you watch it? It doesn’t have Marilyn Monroe in it. After I was done with the movie, I tried to stay up to watch the beginning of the Banacek episode at 12:30, but I fell asleep. I wonder if anybody was watching the World Series. The viewers must have been tired after four hours, much less five hours. Some of the people who died on October 28 include Doris Duke (1993), Ted Hughes (1998), Porter Wagoner (2007), and James MacArthur (2010). Today is a birthday for Joaquin Phoenix (41), Bill Gates (60), and Caitlyn Jenner (66). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for October 28, Stevie Wonder’s “Talking Book” album was released in 1972. In 1981, the television series with Tony Randall made its debut. In 1989, Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” album was Number One on the charts.

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