Thanks to Randy Barbato, who’s on the festival’s board, we went last night to the screening of the much-anticipated Little Miss Sunshine, the closing-night presentation at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Board member, schmoard member, we couldn’t get a seat in the orchestra section of Wadsworth Theatre no matter how many people we offered to blow (actually none, our bad), since EVERY single effing seat was plastered with a RESERVED sign courtesy of Fox Searchlight. So we and the rest of the “others” had to seek seatage in the boondocks of the balcony. (The others included trapped-on-the-balcony trophy winners who were unable to get to the stage during the endless awards ceremony portion of the evening, hosted by a trying-too-hard-to-be-funny Christina Applegate.)
Thank God the film was so good it was able to resonate from so far away. The anticipation is well-deserved. It’s a beautifully photographed and engagingly plotted dysfunctional-family comic road movie with a fresh indie edge and an ensemble cast to die for. And who doesn’t love a dysfunctional family on the road? No one. However, hilarious as it was, we were surprised by the festival audience’s reaction. They went mental, gasped and shrieked, slapped their thighs, busted a collective gut laughing, stopping short only of standing on their seats, and we’re pretty certain many of them actually peed. It was as if it was their first time seeing a movie. It’s how we imagine the audience must have reacted back in 1895 when the Lumiere brothers showed The Arrival of a Train at the Station and they thought it was going to locomote into their laps.
Afterward, at the Middle Eastern-themed (?), lantern-lit buffet-and-open bar party on the theater’s grounds, to which everyone in the theater had been invited, creating a crowd so dense it actually teemed, we tried to spot celebs, but found only the film’s happy directors, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris; little titular co-star Abigail Breslin; Steve Carell; and the rumor of Haley Joel Osment. Oh, and Sundance-winning director Wash Westmoreland. It got so bad, we began to hallucinate stars – from the back: Sammy Hagar, Anderson Cooper, Nicole Richie, and Elizabeth Taylor were thus in attendance. Randy had a conversation with Morgan Spurlock, of Super Size Me fame, who said that he’d made a point of reading the book The Devil Wears Prada a week before seeing the movie version (which opened the festival), and was upset that the Miranda Priestly character had been softened in the film. We had a good laugh over that, that this serious activist documentarian would 1) make sure to read the frivolous chick-lit book – that LA Times‘ Dan Neil said he read while waiting at a red light – before seeing the movie, and 2) be upset at a deviation from the cherished Lauren Weisberger text. We wonder did he bother reading Tristram Shandy before seeing the movie?
(Ed note: Please excuse the sideways pictures of Steve Carell and Wash Westmoreland. We’re mildly retarded without our techie and numerous attempts to rotate the pics proved unsuccessful. Can’t you just turn your head? And we wouldn’t click on them if we were you. Thank you.]