I actually had just rewatched this about a week before I started the new initiative. The reason being that the movie had just been turned into an off-broadway show. The great buzz and wonderful team involved (and the fact that I had another show I wanted to make the trip for, so I figured I needed a matinee) got me on a greyhound to NYC. I \m/ loved it. The music is by William Finn, who also wrote 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (which I directed a couple years ago), A New Brain (which I stage managed a few years before that) and a handful of other well known works. Stylistically, he's not my favorite. Or at least in the sense that he doesn't really write music that I have to listen to over and over. But he does write beautifully, and has incredible story telling quality thru his music.
I was really impressed with how well the movie translated to the stage. Only a few minor tweaks to the story (although I really didn't like how they changed the older pageant winner from a source of inspiration to a cheap joke), and very inventive staging. They had a set of yellow chairs on wheels they moved around to simulate the van. Hard to describe, but believe me it was great. And as to be expected, Olive's talent show song KILLED. Anyways, right after I came back from the show, I had to rewatch the movie.
I love the movie because it is so endearing. There's a realness to it. Yes, the family is incredibly dysfunctional, but what family isn't? Despite all the trouble they cause each other, they're so supportive when they're needed. The characters are strong and original, with incredible performances. Also, the movie is freaking hilarious. The dialog, the wt\m/ situations, everything is gold.
This film started the recent Academy trend of recognizing the quirky indie, paving the way for the likes of Juno and Up in the Air in subsequent years. It introduced us to Paul Dano and Abigail Breslin. Reintroduced us to Steve Carrell as more than a frivolous comic actor. Solidified Alan Arkin as a Hollywood icon. Kept Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette in our minds and hearts. There's just not a bad word to be said about this wild ride in a breaking down VW bus.