As much as we bemoan the conventionality of the Hollywood movie, there is a certain comfort that we take for granted. We know Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan will end up together, that Bruce Willis will kill the SOB who shot his wife, that ET will not only phone home, but will actually get back there. So, it is with a sense of trepidation that I wade into "independent" cinema, because those conventions are stripped bare. Watching "Little Miss Sunshine" I was strongly reminded of the initial run of "Napoleon Dynamite" (a film to which this bears more than a passing resemblance), where I laughed nervously, and didn't really know what I was in for until it was all said and done. And so it is that Little Miss Sunshine does defy conventions, only to a slight degree, owing as much to "National Lampoon's Vacation" as to anything. Once you settle in though, you know you are in for a treat. Is this Academy Award material? Likely no, but it is an impressive achievement in that it packs 5 unlikable people (and 1 slightly homely, but adorable little girl, who is the glue of this dysfunctional family) into a VW minibus, takes them on a roadtrip, and on the way, makes us care about all of them. Like Napoleon Dynamite, it owes much of its charm (and re-watchability) to a dance sequence near the end. To describe it here would not do it justice. But let's just say that it revels in the sleaziness of little girl beauty pageants, and then does an amazing thing, by lowering the bar. "Little Miss Sunshine", were it not for a foul-mouthed turn by Alan Arkin (as a grandfather no one should have), and the bit with the highway patrolman, would be the triumphant family comedy of the year. As it is, watch it after the pre-teens have gone to bed and enjoy!