Wow. Talk about an amazing movie. I just got back from watching an excellently scripted and well-crafted movie. Take some really great actors and throw them into the mix and you have yourself an excellent movie, view with no special effects, ed no flashy CG, action choreography in sight. I’d say it’s a pretty low budget film, that cost 8 million dollars to make, in comparison to most movies these days.
The story is about a family who tries their hardest to drive across country to get their daughter Olive (Abigal Breslin, people may remember her from Signs), to participate in a beauty pageant in California in their nice Volkswagen bus. It starts out with Olive staring at a recorded video tape of Miss Louisana being crowned Miss America and her pretending to accept her award. Switch to her brother Dwayne (Paul Dano), who is seen doing pushups, pull ups, and benching weights. Apparently he has taken an oath of silence until he fulfills his dream of attending the Airforce Academy. Grandpa (Alan Arkin) is in the bathroom doing heroine. Richard (Greg Kinnear), father to Olive and Dwayne is teaching a classroom about his 9 steps to success (or something like that). Hone in on Sheryl (Toni Collette), who is driving to the hospital to pick up her brother Frank (Steve Carell) who has just attempted suicide.
The story goes from there with the introductions. Each and every character has their oddities, and what makes it so special is that I felt like I knew these people. I knew the quirky grandpa, I knew Richard, who wouldn’t shut up about some opinion he had about losers and winners blah blah, I know the exasperated wife, and the boy who hated everyone and everything around them.
Little things stuck out to me: The Burger King cup, the plastic cup, all used during their meal of take out fried chicken and a bowl of salad. How realistic is that? Dwayne, writing out “Please don’t kill yourself tonight” to Frank, then “Welcome to Hell”.
I could praise the actors over and over again. It was nice to see Steve Carell’s character as Frank somewhat of a huge departure from his roles in “The Office” and “The 40 year-old Virgin” and he fit in quite nicely as the gay scholar who wanted to committ suicide over Larry Sugarman, his nemesis in his love life and career.
My favorite character was Grandpa, who just cracked me up with his sex advice and his overall horniness in which he will advice his grandson about sex in a busful of family members. Abigal Bresline was adorable as usual as Olive and was pure joy to watch. Out of her entire family, it seemed as though she was the most “normal” (whatever that means, as one will be able to see after viewing the movie) and sometimes gave a breathe of fresh air admist the dysfunctional atmosphere.
It seemed like I was observing the road trip from hell, all the while still laughing along the way with these nutty characters with how they were coping with the entire situation. I could go on and on about all the special little scenes that stood out in my mind, but what can I tell you but to go see for yourself before I reveal too many of the scenes away.
I would have to say that people who enjoy this film would have to appreciate sarcasm and enjoy a dry sense of humor. If you don’t, then this movie is NOT for you. But for me, and anyone who knows me, I love sarcasm. This movie has a lot of it, and just some very smart and witty humor.
My verdict: Highly recommended. Five sunshines out of Five.