Little Miss Sunshine I was surprised that of all of Roger Hargreaves creations, Little Miss Sunshine was the first to be adapted into a major motion picture. Those in my generation who remember the first release of the Mr Men books will agree with me that the arrival of the Little Misses was seen to be a bit arriviste. An attempt to cash in on the original sequence to a new market. Perhaps the Mr Men were inherently sexist idea but I always felt the Little Misses were cash-ins – often duplicating the attributes and powers* of their male counterparts. Admittedly the Little Misses seemed to play in a sandbox of greater continuity, as evinced by the book of Little Miss Sunshine, where Mr Happy rocks up.

Mr Happy does not appear in the film version of Little Miss Sunshine. Indeed the story is so far removed from the original that the only real connection from the two is the title and the lead character. Instead of Mr Happy, we return to the pre-occupation of the noughties: the dysfunctional family. So we have the heroin snorting grandad, the mute Nietzsche reading brother, the suicidal uncle and the father who is a rubbish motivational speaker. A simple road trip, this version of Little Miss Sunshine does at least try to summon up the spirit of the original by coming out of its bleak mid-section as a thoroughly feelgood experience.

Whoever thought of putting a Little Miss character in a weak satire of beauty pageants managed to pick out the absurdity of the child beauty scene, and much of a the paedophilia inherent in the scene. At the same time the film decides to dodge its own bullet (that of parental neglect) for the alternative of a happy family ending. As such the film has gone the way of many recent US indies, by stuffing its story with meaningful events, and dysfunctional relationships and then copping out on any effect. Here we have a family which is bankrupt, who have just suffered a death and the son has also discovered he is colour blind – stopping his ambition. And yet the film ends with nice hug, a bit of togetherness and an absolute lack of acknowledgement of these problems. Not to mention the biggest problem of all, which the film ignores – having a child who is a crudely drawn cartoon character. But then at the same time how dark or realistic could they make this film without upsetting the estate of Roger Hargreaves? I just hope the upcoming version of Mr Uppity starring Jason Statham is more faithful to the original.

*Okay, maybe powers is the wrong word. Though it is apt in the case of Mr Rush, Tall, Bounce and possibly Greedy (imagine MrManLand being threatened by a plague of giant peas and you know who you want on your side).