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hopscotchee: toni collette score: 85.5 rating: R time: 102 minutes

hit the breaks!! if you are seriously struggling to find something to watch as we venture into the new year, little miss sunshine is for sure a green light. regardless of it being the 2007 oscar winner for best original screenplay which is a total flex and only further validates its entertainment credibility, this film's delightful spin on quirky realism, seen through it's one of a kind characters and stand out costumes, combined with it's ability to take on heavier thematic elements with a nonetheless upbeat tempo makes it a thrilling, wild ride of a watch!!

starting the ignition, one of the best

aspects of little miss sunshine was, undoubtably, the acting!! like sears, holy freakin' cow!! usually we'd spotlight or talk about how one actor or actress did really well, but there is not a single person who could possibly get all the claps and credit. although this was a highly noticeable departure for steve carrel and his iconic character, michael scott from the office, showing us a more serious side of himself and his never-ending caliber of talent, the camaraderie between the entire cast was the main star of the film and unlike anything we've seen before. the balance of sharing the screen with each other was in beautiful harmony, not out shining one another, but equally using their own talents to lift and enhance the performance of each other. however, the best thing about the acting was the level of personality that everyone brought and how they, despite all having uniquely different personas, were so intimately connected to each other, perfectly capturing the annoyance-triggering yet caring banter of an arguable and sincerely genuine family. in particular, during (spoiler) the dinner kitchen table scene in its entirety, from the movement around the house to the interactions with the characters, each family member was completely in their element, naturally talking over each other and setting up their group dynamic brilliantly to introduce the viewer to the thick tensions coinciding within the family's relationship.

signaling to another spectacular element of this film, the set and design was so on the nose accurate to the feel of a small, mid class, family, trying everything possible to live a comfortable and supporting life. taking this to heart with nearly every prop and decoration in each room, nothing was unrealistically too flashy, yet still oddball-ish enough to make this family different from the rest. even, going back to to the dinner kitchen table scene, the inclusion of sprite added to the abundance of personality that was packed into this movie. however, obviously, obviously coming to mind, the eye catching, yellow statement-piece of transportation, the volkswagen t2 served as the setting for most of the film, which uniquely created a more interactive and engaging setting, keeping all the family members stuck in the same space together for a long and trying road trip. though, with all the fun and chaos the car and other props caused within the storyline, they also caused some distribution to the film with a hand full of continuity errors within the editing. distinctly relevant in the (spoiler) pushing the car back onto the road scene after the family stopped at the repair shop or while wayne silently eats the chicken at the dinner table in an early scene, by using various shots across various takes to piece the film together causes jumps in movement from the actors and actresses interacting with the props which can be a little distracting to keen viewers who catch those small inconstancies.

however, whether you'd consider that a blindspot or not, we don't consider it a major one to the movie's overall effect. in fact, the variety of shot comp from frame to frame gave this film a nice touch, equally driving the pace of the story with the incorporation of frequent interchanging shots while also sparking the viewer's attention through stylistic elements such as the precise balance or imbalance between negative and positive space*. specially recalled midway through the movie, during (spoiler) wayne's breakdown scene when he runs down the hill, screaming, after having found out that he's colorblind, although powerfully delivered by shout-out-to-former-hopscotch-wildlife-director paul dano's incredible acting abilities, the striking contrast between wayne expressing his explosive feelings, and the vast, grassy hill up against the blue sky further juxtaposed and greater emphasized his emotions, adding to the weight of frustration the character kept in up to this point. rather than having a flat and rather simple shot of paul dano, the asymmetry of him and the background brought on an imbalance that coincided with the plot's own disposition, having to take a detour for character progression instead of plot progression.

* to quickly explain to those who may not be liam-payne-familiar, negative and positive space in film or photography design is essentially the ratio between your subject and background and how much you show of each. that's really basic. we could go on more, but hopefully that fills you in enough :-)

finally, coming to a stop, to all these points, little miss sunshine basically knocked our socks off with it's repeated lack of hesitation to impress us. so, although still january and chilly, if you're willing to get your socks knocked off too, this movie is an insanely fresh, original, and fun watch that's hard to disappoint!

-- thanks, toni xo

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