Thursday, February 01, 2007
"Quirky" used to be an adjective, but now it's become a genre of film. Gather together some pitiably awkward and clueless characters and send them on an improbable mission. At the end, offer them redemption of some limited sort to show the audience it's ok to be pitiably awkward and clueless. Roll credits.
Into this increasingly tired formula, Little Miss Sunshine injects the following characters: a heroin-snorting foul-mouthed pornography hound granddad (Alan Arkin), a pudgy homely girl in ridiculous glasses who aspires to be a child beauty queen, a wholly uninspiring inspirational speaker (Greg Kinnear), a teenaged fan of Nietszche who hates everyone and who has taken a vow of silence, a gay Proust scholar who has attempted suicide over a series of catastrophes commenced by an unrequited love for a grad assistant (Steve Carell). What zany-ness! How much quirk can one insert into a single script?! Yawn.
Fortunately there's sufficient charm and some good performances, otherwise I would have shut this off twenty minutes in. The quirky formula quickly grows stale. Napolean Dynamite is a previous (and better) example, and has the same basic plot, including unaccountably hip nerd dancing at the end. Cha liked Little Miss Sunshine much more than I.