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Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine

Image Credit: Little Miss Sunshine, 2006.

When Little Miss Sunshine (Disc/Download) came out almost fifteen years ago, I related most to Olive- the little girl who would always be different and hadn’t yet realized this was a good thing. But now, I find myself identifying with Olive’s grandpa (Alan Arkin) and his end-of-life wisdom. He’s seen a lot, he’s lived to tell the tales, and he’s tired of the bullshit. Or, maybe he’s just plain tired.

Little Miss Sunshine is a multi-generational comedy about a family road trip and the tensions erupting along their journey. Young Olive makes it into the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant, so her weary mom, desperate dad, silent brother, depressed uncle, and heroin-addict grandpa pile into the VW bus. The vehicle itself becomes a character, breaking down along the way, forcing the family to work together to push-start it, mocking them with its broken horn. This is a comedy, but it’s equally balanced by tragedy. Death, suicide, and failure stand right alongside the hilarity of child beauty queens, with their capped teeth and miniature stripper outfits. There are sequins and hospitals, ice cream and Proust. And at the center of it all, a charming super-freak.

This sunshine-colored bus hides a lot of bitterness inside, so I think it’s appropriate to make a cocktail that’s both sweet and sour. While watching Little Miss Sunshine, I recommend drinking this Sunbeam.

Sunbeam

1 ½ oz Irish Whiskey

¾ oz Dry Vermouth

½ oz Lemon Juice

¾ oz Grapefruit Juice

¾ oz Simple Syrup

2 oz Club Soda

Grapefruit Bitters

White grapefruit or lemon twist

Combine first five ingredients in a shaker over ice. Shake until chilled, then pour into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with club soda and a few dashes of grapefruit bitters. Stir gently, and garnish with a twist of lemon or white grapefruit.

Sunbeam

Maybe, like me, you’ve spent time believing you’re a loser. Watching other people who just seem to fit, be it with their career, or looks, or friendships, and feeling like you’d always be on the outside looking in.  But as grandpa says, “Losers are people who are so afraid of not winning, they don’t even try.” Rest assured, this super-freak is still trying like hell, with help from a talented supporting cast of friends and family. Cheers!

In Her Shoes

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Image credit: In Her Shoes, 2005

I was so saddened to hear about the passing of director Curtis Hanson last month. I’ve featured his films LA Confidential and Wonder Boys on Cinema Sips in the past, but this week I’m excited to write about one of his less frequently lauded films In Her Shoes (DVD/Download). An unconventional choice for Hanson, this quasi-rom com could have veered off into Hallmark Channel territory. But with his skilled hand it became a beautiful film about the relationship between sisters, the joy and pathos of aging, and the quest we’re all on to find professional fulfillment. The fact that it features sugary pink drinks and designer shoes- well, that’s just icing on the cupcake.

Adapted from the wonderfully fun novel by Jennifer Weiner (one of my personal favorite writers), In Her Shoes is about two sisters (Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz) who have a falling out, and struggle to find their way back to each other.  Along the way they reunite with a long-lost grandmother (played by Shirley MacLaine), and discover the love and self-confidence both had always lacked. Sure there’s some romance, a lot of cute shoes, and bikini shots of Cameron Diaz after she moves into her grandma’s retirement community. But there are also some great scenes about the struggles many of us face in life, and that really triumphant moment when finally, at last, you figure out what you’re meant to do. Watching this movie just makes me hopeful.

In an effort to bond with her too-cool-for-school adult granddaughter, Shirley MacLaine spends an evening watching Sex and the City and drinking cosmos. It’s a cliche, but I’m sorry, cosmos are delicious!  And for this movie, the drink fits. While watching In Her Shoes, I recommend drinking a Cosmopolitan.

Cosmopolitan

1 ½ oz Vodka

1 oz Cranberry juice

½ oz Cointreau

½ oz fresh lime juice

Lime wedge

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lime.

cosmopolitan

What always delighted me about this film was the spot-on depiction of Florida retirement communities. As a child of Florida snow-birds, I’ve always daydreamed about just running away to the land of early bird specials, white pants, water aerobics, and cocktail hour. It’s only the lack of decent Tex-Mex there that stops me (and okay, my really great life back in Texas). Lucky for me, I’ve got In Her Shoes, and that really great Florida-set episode of Seinfeld to remind me of what I’m missing. Cheers!