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It sucks being a Hoover. Just ask the heads of the Hoover house, Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette, who pile their whole dysfunctional clan into a van and head west to California. The goal? To fulfill daughter Abigail Breslin's dream of competing in a preteen beauty pageant. Of course, things never go as planned, and these quirky but real folks find themselves in one wacko situation after another.
Okay, okay, family road-trip movies are as routine as roadkill, but don't worry--this is no RV retread. Except for one done-to-death bit about corpse-stealing, this character-driven journey is consistently fresh and gut-bustingly funny, thanks to a razor-sharp script and a kickass cast. Kinnear as a loser motivational speaker and Steve Carell as a gay, suicidal Proust scholar do some of their best work to date. In these dog days of bloated summer spectacles, this little Sunshine is a ray of just that. Don't Miss it.
--Matt Stevens