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Little Miss Sunshine (2006)Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

"Life is nothing but a beauty pageant with everyone judging you all the time." So complains Dwayne, a sullen teenager who reads Nietzsche and scribbles notes to his dysfunctional family because he's taken a vow of silence. Not a bad move, either. His father Richard spouts cliches about his motivational series called "Refuse to Lose" that is an abysmal failure. Wife and mom Shery is the peace-maker-enabler. Her brother Frank is a Proust scholar who tried to commit suicide, and her foul-mouthed father who lives with the family kills himself snorting heroin. "Welcome to hell," Dwayne scribbles to Frank. Little Olive, the darling of the family, won a trip to the "Little Miss Sunshine" beauty pageant, so the entire family piles into their dilapidated VW van for the 800-mile trip from Albuquerque to Redondo Beach. They endure the calamities and indignities you would expect, then find redemption of sorts that bespeaks a larger and more serious lesson to us all when they deconstruct the pageant in unlikely ways. Thank God for the Harris family!

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