"Everyone just pretend to be normal!"
I went into this movie thinking that it was a comedy – friends who had seen it earlier described it as “hysterical” – so I felt a bit disjointed when the first 30 minutes presented nothing but dysfunctional family dynamics of the un-funny kind. The initial family dinner scene with parents Richard and Cheryl, Grandpa, Uncle Frank, and children Olive and Dwayne was almost too uncomfortable to get through but once the “wheels hit the road” so to speak, (the family piles into their VW Bus for the drive from Albuquerque to Redondo Beach, CA) we get to see each character in a more complete light.
While this isn’t a laugh-a-minute film, the comedic scenes are expertly done and extremely humorous – the best of these being the beauty pageant talent competition which was surprising, shockingly hilarious, and socially insightful all at the same time. Along with Alan Arkin as Grandpa, Abigail Breslin steals the show as the adorably quirky and innocent Olive.