David Auerbach on literature, tech, film, etc.

Little Miss Sunshine

This sometimes amusing farce gives me the opportunity to plug a few far greater comedies that it echoes:

Smile also shares the beauty contest motif, but works it into a small town setting where the teen beauty pageant becomes an exhausting force that draws out suppressed pain and disappointment. Bruce Dern, who was mostly known for playing psychos, does an uncanny job suggesting all that is wrong with the average small-town citizen. Barbara Feldon is also amazing as the disillusioned ex-winner turned ice queen pageant director. Yet it’s not heartless, and the small degree to which the characters can still genuinely emote is touching.

Little Murders is heartless. It was directed by Alan Arkin, who has the best role in LIttle Miss Sunshine, and he did an appropriately ghastly job with Jules Feiffer’s script. Elliott Gould plays a catastrophically depressed photographer in New York in the bad old days of random violence, anomie, and paranoia. Awful things happen. It’s constructed as a series of setpieces, but enough of them are brilliant to keep things moving along. Donald Sutherland’s reverend probably has the best bit, but I’ve always had a weakness for the scene where Gould returns to his parents to be consoled and…I won’t give it away.

And as far as pre-teen beauty pageants go, I think Chris Morris (scroll down to “BRASS EYE”) had the best, shortest commentary on it all.


  1. i’d never heard of chris morris or brass eye before and i thought the transcript was super funny, so in an attempt to find more brass eye i looked at the site the transcript was posted on…and was surprised to see it’s an actual pedophilia website. seems they liked the brasseye spoof. and another thing they like: sentimental victorian pictures of little girls. they beat out anime-type pictures by at least two to one.
    anyway, it was creepy.

  2. Oh dear. I did not notice that. I found an alternative link and replaced it.

  3. You got a woman naked in the bathtub, and you’re not even selling tickets?

    I love Bruce Dern.

  4. have you ever watched little murders with the elliott gould commentary? it’s some whole other shit; grandiose insanity. he sounds as if he has been left alone in the room, is like, sitting upside down on the couch, playing with his toes, mumbling, ranting; he has forgotten where he is, who’s listening… i was briefly inspired to begin blog devoted to dvd commentaries gone wild. (didn’t)

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