A resounding success at Sundance, where it sold for a rumored $10 million amid frantic interest from multiple distributors, Little Miss Sunshine gives us a glorious peek into the lives of the Hoovers, a not-so-happy family, which, as Tolstoy might have noted, is "unhappy in its own way." That's a good thing, because really, who would want to sit for 90 minutes watching a happy family?
There's so much more room for interesting relationships, drama, and the delicately comedic moments that life has a way of wringing out of tragedy, in a family that's miserable most of the time and clinging together. As the film opens, Sheryl (Toni Collette), the family matriarch, is picking up her brother Frank (Steve Carell), the self-described "number one Proustian scholar in the world," from the hospital following a botched suicide attempt. She brings Frank home under strict orders that he is not to be left alone, which means he gets to share a bedroom with the household teenager, Dwayne (Paul Dano), who isn't talking to anyone.