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The Disgusting "Little Miss Sunshine"
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Film critics and apparently a heavy majority of movie-goers have done it again. They've once more hailed a genuinely awful movie as one the year's best. Two years ago, it was "Sideways," one of the most outrageously overrated films in recent history. Now it's "Little Miss Sunshine," which actually may be even more overrated than "Sideways."

Truly astounding has been the praise for the lame, supposedly comic tale of a highly dysfunctional family's three-day trip in a battered VW van from New Mexico to southern California to enter seven-year-old Olive in a Miss America-like "Little Miss Sunshine" beauty pageant.

To cite just a few of the many preposterous critical assessments: "Brazenly satirical yet deeply human ... exquisite ... endearing ... moving ... hilarious ... always funny ... hugely enjoyable ... near-perfect...a film for the ages ... an absolute winner."

Don't you believe it.

Some comedy. There are very few humorous moments, in part because of poor timing that makes humorous setups fall flat at the hands of actors who show few, if any, comic skills. And the characters they play are virtually all utterly unsympathetic and stereotypical - surly teenager, clueless believer in the power of positive thinking, dirty old man (a part wasted on the fine actor Alan Arkin), and others who are simply neither interesting nor funny. This is not to mention the highly contrived plot. There's more, but I honestly find it painful to recall the film.

The entire movie, at any rate, is heavily overshadowed by a sickening ending that depicts the Little Miss Sunshine competition, featuring garishly tarted-up pre-teen girls in skimpy dancing-girl costumes doing suggestive booty-shaking dances. They look like a troupe of six-year-old hookers, like the tarted-up six-year-old in Colorado, JonBonnet Ramsey, whose murder caused a national stir, along with criticism of her parents for tarting her up for contests like this and for modeling and other exploitative money-making ventures. I assume it's supposed to be a parody of the Miss America contest, which, however, is a parody of itself, impossible to parody.

The movie's climax, in which Olive does a bump-and-grind while family members join in and a leering creep in the audience cheers them on is more than lame. It's disgusting.

Copyright 2006 Dick Meister