Sunday, August 06, 2006

A Small World After All

Having heard from a little birdie that ModFab and Nathaniel were able to join forces last week for a Manhattan screening of Little Miss Sunshine, StinkyLulu and I decided that fair was fair, and we staged our own Second City secret rendezvous at a morning matinée of the same movie. Reader, it tickles me to report that Stinky is just as warm, witty, and movie-geeked in person as he is on the blog, and I was reminded all over again that making http://friends and then befriending them all over again in person is one of the most delicious pleasures of web life...even when you realize, "I could name this man's five favorite actresses in ranked order, but I'm not exactly positive where he lives."

As for Little Miss Sunshine, it's the kind of modest, yukky, well-acted, road-traveling American indie that elevates itself by insisting on character notes where a lesser movie would settle for punchlines...but then deflates a little whenever it makes the opposite choice. One scene begins with an unexpected death that was played impressively straight, brilliantly concentrating all of its slapstick impulses into the single exclamation "Linda!" But then, before you know it, a corpse is being tipped out a hospital window in a desperately farcical set-piece almost as unwelcome as the comatose kidnapping in Just Like Heaven. The whole movie is a sine wave—up, down, up, down—and if its peppy finish offers a winning tribute to the worn-down and halfway absurd American family, it's also the most visually slack passage in the movie, with the least convincing background players. Thank goodness all the main actors stay on their toes, and they keep us there, too. Fans of Toni Collette, so reliably inventive with all her little bits of business, will delight in the knowledge that despite being saddled much too often with the disapproving line "Richard!", she squeezes some cigarette acting, luggage acting, Sprite acting, pencil acting, and popsicle acting into the first fifteen minutes alone. She's still, in a swerve no one saw coming in Muriel's Wedding or Emma or Velvet Goldmine, one of the most convincing moms in the movies. Finally, a few extra props to costume designer Nancy Steiner, who knows exactly what each of the Hoovers would wear, and why, and in exactly what aisle of Target they found it. B–

P.S. Considering how StinkyLulu hails from the same state as the Hoover clan, and realizing that I've now met all of the ModFab 6 except for that dismayingly distant Antipodean, par3182, I led myself inexorably to these thoughts: six ModFab apprentices, six Hoovers. Two gals, four fellas in each, plus an Australian. Is Little Miss Sunshine secretly the Rosetta Stone of our dormant but fabulous sextet of culture wags? Is that why this movie keeps magically drawing us together? Dr. S and Melissa, is there any chance of you catching this flick in tandem? And, in the now obvious set of analogies, who is who? A hint: clearly ModFab himself is the Little Miss Sunshine of the title, the unseen beauty whom the rest of us find ourselves chasing, even hoping to be. After that, it gets harder, especially since any. one. of. us. could be the "Superfreak"—though I personally have a hunch that she lives in Ohio.

Image © 2006 Fox Searchlight Pictures.

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7 Comments:

Blogger par3182 said...

don't worry about me - i'll see it all by myself whenever it gets released down here. no, seriously, you all go on having fun with one another...

sniff

6:54 PM, August 06, 2006  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

This post made me feel like shouting FUCK at the top of my lungs after months of silence. (Only in a good way.)

But that's an uncharacteristic response given that I am CLEARLY Toni Collette. Or at least aspire to be. The fabulous if harried one.

7:21 PM, August 06, 2006  
Blogger StinkyLulu said...

I think the really awful question is:
who is Richard?

I'd like to be the morbidly self-obsessed academic...but honestly suspect I'm the perverted grandpa.

10:50 AM, August 07, 2006  
Blogger Dr. S said...

The fact is, I won't get to see it at all, because it will never come to midOhio, and so I now just feel left out. Sigh. (Par3182, maybe you and I should cohost a pity party.)

1:57 PM, August 07, 2006  
Blogger Dr. S said...

The fact is, I was wrong! I have just seen the movie, in Union Square of all places. I think you might be right. I might be the unwitting superfreak, right down to being able to get people up on their feet (and thereby to shock the hell out of others).

9:47 PM, August 17, 2006  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

This was bound to happen...in fact, LMS has been making so much money, I'm sure the big multiplexes in Mount Vernon and/or Heath are bound to get it when it expands to 1500 screens in a couple of weeks.

So, Dr. S is a party-startin' Superfreak, Nathaniel is harried and fabulous Toni Collette, and the rest of us are still circling nervously around Richard, the depressed and morbid academic. Maybe we should have a staring contest, Stinky?

1:10 AM, August 18, 2006  
Blogger Dr. S said...

No, no, Larry was the academic. Richard is the "I swear I'm not the loser I really am" nine steps guy. Keep circling him. I could also claim Larry; he's actually more likely who I am.

9:13 AM, August 18, 2006  

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