LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, 10th Anniversary Screening
7 p.m. Tuesday, March 1, 2016
53 Wall Street Auditorium
Introduction by Archer Neilson, post-screening discussion with Abigail Breslin, Ron Gregg, and Brian Meacham
Film Notes by Archer Neilson

Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (2006) 101 mins
Written by Michael Arndt
Cinematography by Tim Suhrstedt
Music by Mychael Danna and Devotchka
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Starring Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, Toni Collette, and Steve Carell

“She’s alright; she’s alright; that girl’s alright with me, yeah.” Rick James, “Super Freak”

Beloved by audiences and praised by critics, the sleeper hit of 2006 was described by Peter Travers as “a scrappy human comedy that takes an honest path to laughs and is twice as funny and touching for it,” by Amy Biancolli as “viciously wellwritten and brilliantly acted,” and by David Edelstein as “an enchanting anthem to loserdom–a dark comedy that piles on setback after setback and yet never loses its helium.” The film takes place “at the terminus of the American dream,” says Manohla Dargis, but even though the more personal dreams of the characters in LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE may be as dicey as their ramshackle VW bus, the tenacious but struggling family at the film’s heart follows the quintessential American impulse when drive meets desperation: go west.

Produced for only $8,000,000, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE earned over $100,000,000 at the box office. It was the first film produced from a screenplay by Michael Arndt, who quit his job as Matthew Broderick’s personal assistant to focus on the script. It paid off, and Arndt won an Oscar, a BAFTA, and an Independent Spirit award for his debut film. He has since written for big-budget hits including TOY STORY 3, THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE, and STAR WARS: EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS. Husband-and-wife directing team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris built their careers through commercials (notably “Milky Way,” the 1999 Volkswagen Cabrio “Pink Moon” ad), music videos (including Jane’s Addiction’s “Been Caught Stealing,” Extreme’s “More than Words,” and The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight”), and MR. SHOW episodes before turning to feature films. LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE was their first feature, and it was followed in 2012 by RUBY SPARKS, starring SUNSHINE’s Paul Dano and Yale alumna Zoe Kazan.

As of the tenth anniversary, seven LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE cast members have received Academy Award nominations: Alan Arkin (who won Best Supporting Actor for SUNSHINE), Abigail Breslin (nominated for Best Supporting Actress for the film), Steve Carell (FOXCATCHER), Toni Collette (THE SIXTH SENSE), Bryan Cranston (TRUMBO), Greg Kinnear (AS GOOD AS IT GETS), and Marc Turtletaub (a producer for Best Picture nominee LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE who also appears as a doctor in the film). Cranston and Dean Norris were featured in this Albuquerque-based project two years before reteaming in BREAKING BAD. Cranston’s character, Stan Grossman, was given his moniker by Arndt as a tribute to another Best Original Screenplay Oscar winner, the Coen brothers’ FARGO, which also featured a character by that name. SUNSHINE producers were initially reluctant to cast Steve Carell, who was not widely known at the time, but between his casting and the film’s release, Carell starred in THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN and the television series THE OFFICE, making him a major star. Other than Breslin, the film’s pageant contestants were scouted at actual beauty contests, and the girls performed their same routines in the same costumes and makeup as in their offscreen competitions. Dayton and Faris gave their own parents roles as extras, and the four of them can be seen in the booth behind Collette and Kinnear in the diner scene.

DID YOU KNOW: As well as being adapted as an off-broadway musical, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE was the inspiration for two Indian musical films: 2008's Marathi DE DHAKKA, directed by Atul Kale and Sudesh Manjrekar, and 2010's Kannada CRAZY KUTUMBA, directed by B. Ramamurthy. both films follow the misadventures of a family on a road trip to a chilren's dance competition.

Presented in the Treasures from the Yale Film Archive series with support from Paul L. Joskow '70 M.Phil., '72 Ph.D. Printed Film Notes are distributed to the audience before each Treasures screening.

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