Steve Carell (Anchorman)
Greg Kinnear (As Good As It Gets)
Toni Collette (Changing lanes)
Paul Dano (Knight and Day)
Abigail Breslin (Scream queens)
Alan Arkin (Get Smart)
Jill Talley (American Dad)
Bryan Cranston (Argo)
Paula Newsome (Suburgatory)
Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
Mary Lynn Rajskub (2 Broke Girls)
Wallace Langham (CSI)
Geoff Meed (Fast & Furious 5)
Sheryl Hoover is an overworked mother of two living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her brother, Frank, is a scholar of French author Proust and a homosexual, temporarily living at home with the family after having attempted suicide. Sheryl’s husband Richard is a Type A personality striving to build a career as a motivational speaker and life coach. Dwayne, Sheryl’s son from a previous marriage, is a Nietzsche-reading teenager who has taken a vow of silence until he can accomplish his dream of becoming a test pilot. Richard’s foulmouthed father, Edwin, recently evicted from a retirement home for snorting heroin, lives with the family. Olive, the daughter of Richard and Sheryl and the youngest of the Hoover family, is an aspiring beauty queen who is coached by Edwin.
Olive learns she has qualified for the “Little Miss Sunshine” beauty pageant that is being held in Redondo Beach, California in two days. Her parents and Edwin, who has been coaching her, want to support her, and Frank and Dwayne cannot be left alone, so the whole family goes. Because they have little money, they go on an 800-mile road trip in their yellow Volkswagen Type 2.Family tensions play out on the highway and at stops along the way, amidst the aging VW van’s mechanical problems. When the van breaks down early on, the family learns that they must push the van until it is moving at about 20 mph before it is put into gear, at which point they have to run up to the side door and jump in. Later on, the van’s horn starts honking unceasingly by itself.Throughout the road trip, the family suffers numerous personal setbacks and discover their need for each other’s support. Richard loses an important contract that would have jump-started his motivational business. Frank encounters the ex-boyfriend who, in leaving him for an academic rival, had prompted his suicide attempt. Edwin dies from a heroin overdose, resulting in the family smuggling the body out of a hospital and nearly having it discovered by the police. During the final leg of the trip, Dwayne discovers that he is color blind, which means he cannot become a pilot, a realization that prompts him to break his silence, and shout his anger and disdain for his family.
The climax takes place at the beauty pageant. After a frantic race against the clock the family arrives at the hotel, and are curtly told by a pageant organizer that they are a couple minutes past the deadline. A sympathetic hired hand instead offers to register Olive on his own time. As Olive prepares for the pageant, the family sees Olive’s competition: slim, hypersexualized pre-teen girls with teased hair and capped teeth. They wear lip gloss, adult-like swimsuits, and glamorous evening wear while performing highly elaborate dance numbers with great panache. It quickly becomes apparent that Olive (plain, chubby, wearing large eyeglasses, and untrained in beauty pageant conventions) is a mere amateur by comparison.
As Olive’s turn to perform in the talent portion of the pageant draws near, Richard and Dwayne recognize that Olive is certain to be humiliated, and wanting to spare her feelings, run to the dressing room to talk her out of performing. Sheryl, however, insists that they “let Olive be Olive”, and Olive goes on stage. Olive’s hitherto-unrevealed dance that her Grandpa Edwin had choreographed for her is performed to Rick James’ song “Super Freak”. Olive scandalizes and horrifies most of the audience and pageant judges with a burlesque performance that she joyfully performs while oblivious to their reactions. The pageant organizers are enraged and demand Sheryl and Richard remove Olive from the stage. Instead of removing her, one by one the members of the Hoover family join Olive on stage, dancing alongside her to show their support.
The family is next seen outside the hotel’s security office where they are given their freedom in return for a promise never to enter a beauty pageant in the state of California again. Piling into the van with the horn still honking, they happily smash through the barrier of the hotel’s toll booth and head back to their home in Albuquerque.
This carries a strong message of family values, but doesnt ram it in your face! Its a well crafted, funny, touching and entertaining film which deserves to be watched and adored by all.