Little Miss Sunshine

HEADLINE: DON’T TAKE THEIR SUNSHINE AWAY

Little Miss Sunshine

 R (Mature themes, strong language, drug content), 99 mins, letterboxed and full-frame versions on disc, Dolby Digital 5.1, $29.98, street: December 19, FOX

little_miss_sunshine02Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris have no problem talking about their hit feel-good dysfunctional family comedy, no problem at all. Although this package contains not a single minute of behind the scenes footage, the couple (who are husband and wife) log more than three hours discussing it in not one but two separate commentary tracks. The “director” commentary” finds them imparting much information about this, their debut feature, which took a full six years to reach the production stage. The couple also appear on the “screenwriter commentary” with scripter Michael Arndt, who had initially wanted to direct Sunshine himself, but who now praises Dayton and Faris’s accomplishment as “heroic.” This remark, combined with several dozen other comments on line readings, imagery and casting might make it seem like the film under discussion is Citizen Kane, but perhaps the sheerest sign of Dayton/Faris’ omnipresence is the fact that, although one can choose whether or not to listen to even more director commentary on an “alternate endings” supplement, one must hear them on the first of the scenes (they evidently wanted to include the sliver of discarded footage, but couldn’t bear to have it seen without an explanation about why it was scrapped). In listening to the commentaries, one begins to wonder what happened to the folks most viewers would like to hear from, namely the solid ensemble cast. Arndt winds up offering the single most memorable bit of info when he notes that the picture’s best-remembered gag grew out of a 600-mile trip his family took from Maine to Virginia with a broken clutch – thus requiring them to get out and push their van downhill every time they left a rest stop. —Ed Grant