This is one of the best movies of 2006 in my opinion. It is terrific! It's sad and funny and moving and it's filled with complex characters and emotions.
To be honest, I completely missed this movie when it made the theatre rounds. (My small town doesn't get too many non-blockbuster movies.) I only heard about it when I read some Oscar previews. So, I rented it and it's one of the best movies I've ever seen. It's kind of like a dysfunctional Vacation.Young Abigail Breslin is certainly worthy of an Oscar nod as best support actress, which is what I've seen predicted.
The movie opens with a relatively slow scene, so be patient while they eat dinner. The fun starts when young Olive, played by Breslin, learns the winner of California's Little Miss Sunshine contest has forfeited, passing the title on to her as first runner up. That entitles her to compete in the regional beauty pageant, but she must be in California in 48 hours. So, the family loads up the old VW van and off they go.
The family is just precious and I'm sure one of your relatives is represented at this family table. Dad is the Type A author who's trying to peddle a motivational book. Grandpa is wise and cranky with some unusual tastes. The teenage son is not speaking for political reasons. Olive isn't the beauty pageant type, even though she's so lovable. Mom is dedicated. A recent addition includes mom's brother, a professor who has just been released from the hospital after a suicide attempt.
On the way to California, the family faces several setbacks and technically doesn't make by the pageant's registered time. Of course, that's not going to stop them. The ending is priceless. It's very unexpected and makes the movie completely worthwhile. This movie should get two thumbs up!
There's not any nudity in this movie, but it may not be a good choice for children because of adult situations and language. (A pre-teen would probably be asking a lot of questions during the movie.)