Little Miss Sunshine is a 2006 American comedy-drama road film and the directorial debut of the husband-wife team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. The screenplay was written by first-time writer Michael Arndt, the film stars Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin and Alan Arkin, and was produced by Big Beach Films on a budget of US$8 million. Filming began on June 6,2005 and took place over 30 days in Arizona, the film had a limited release in the United States on July 26,2006, and later expanded to a wider release starting on August 18. Little Miss Sunshine had a box office gross of $100.5 million. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and it also won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature and received numerous other accolades. Sheryl Hoover is a mother of two living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her brother, Frank, who is gay and a scholar of Proust, is living at home with the family after having attempted suicide. Sheryls husband Richard is a Type A personality striving to build a career as a motivational speaker, Dwayne, Sheryls 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. Richards foulmouthed father, Edwin, recently evicted from a retirement home for snorting heroin, 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 and 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 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, later on, the vans horn starts honking unceasingly by itself. Throughout the road trip, the family suffers numerous personal setbacks, Richard loses an important contract that would have jump-started his motivational business. Frank encounters the ex-boyfriend who, in leaving him for a rival, had prompted his suicide attempt. Edwin dies from an overdose, resulting in the family smuggling the body out of a hospital. 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 Olives 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 and it quickly becomes apparent that Olive is a mere amateur by comparison
Five modified vans were used during filming to capture various angles of the characters, including this one through the windshield.
To make Abigail Breslin's character (center) appear larger than the other girls, she wore a padded suit. Much of the equipment and costumes exhibited during the pageant were provided by actual contestants' parents.