Little Miss Sunshine

You'll laugh, too.

"Love comforteth like sunshine after rain." Shakespeare, Lear

So you think any one of these summer comedies could be called the best of the year: Scoop, Clerks II, You, Me and Dupree, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Not so when you see Little Miss Sunshine, a certifiable winner for the year with a fraction of their budgets and more wit than even the Woodman can employ.

Think National Lampoon's Vacation with moments of important social conscience. The Hoover family is traveling by VW bus from Albuquerque to Redondo Beach for the Little Miss Sunshine Beauty Pageant. Dad Richard (Greg Kinnear) is a motivational speaker whose 9 step program has no real effect on an essentially slacking family, including potty-mouthed, tell it all like it s grandpa (Alan Arkin) is hilariously out of place here, as he is in the world. Brother in law Frank has tried suicide more than once, in part because his closest academic rival may have proven to be the best living Proust scholar rather than Frank.

My bus broke down as does theirs. They always do on long trips. As with the Hoovers, however, lessons can be learned and humanity tapped on such disastrous outings. Sunshine strips the pretense from the whole family, threatening to make them normal and loving, and certifying after they see the pageant, that they will never enter little sister is such an American tragedy again.

I guess all American long trips are a metaphor for the growth of our country and the flowering of character. This film shows more character development than most of the films this summer combined. Along the way the Hoover family will face its darkest secrets, confirm the salutary nature of love, and keep a sense of humor.

And you'll laugh, too.