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Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine (2006); Rated R
The Hoover family -- a man, his wife, an uncle, a brother, and a grandfather -- puts the fun back in dysfunctional by piling into a VW bus and heading to California to support a daughter in her bid to win the Little Miss Sunshine Contest. The sanity of everyone involved is stretched to the limit as the group's quirks cause epic problems as they travel along their interstate route.


Story type:

Personal Response:

  1. I believe the theme of Little Miss Sunshine is the importance of family when dealing with loss. The Hoover family encounters many losses throughout their road trip, including Richard’s unsuccessful job, Dwayne losing his dream of being a pilot, Edwin dying, Frank’s failure at love and life. And, at first, it may not seem that being a part of the Hoover family helps them overcome these losses. However, it is not in the family members’ direct actions, but rather, in everyone’s sympathy and resilience, that the Hoovers overcome what they lost. Additionally, Richard’s character is obsessed with winning. He thinks that they are only winners and losers in the world and that losers shouldn’t even bother trying. However, by the end of the film, he, and the rest of the family, learn that it is okay to lose. The losses that the characters experience may be losses of the dreams and ideals they once had; however, they aren’t losers.
  2. I think that this film definitely integrates the attributes of a family story type. The characters in this story are all blood-related, and there are issues and conflicts between the parents and kids. Richard and Sheryl don’t like that Dwayne has taken his vow of silence, and they both argue about the lessons they teach Olive. Richard doesn’t like that Sheryl tells Olive about Frank’s suicide, and Sheryl doesn’t like that Richard tells Olive she should watch what she eats. There is also love and affection expressed between the family members, and they always try to show the others what they think is best for them, even if it is not ideal. Lastly, Olive and Dwayne do see the problems of their parents and grandfather. Although these shortcomings may have already been known, they see firsthand the realities these people face. They see their grandfather die due to his drug addiction, and they see their parents struggle with finances and life. However, they also see their parents overcoming their problems and growing because of what they learned on the trip.
  3. The filmmaking component that struck me the most was all of the individual characters. I think each of the characters was very well written and had a very complex personality. I also think that these characters complemented or contrasted the others in their family, making the Hoover family dynamic seem realistic. The pairings that stood out to me the most were the pairings that stay together in the hotel rooms - Olive and Edwin, Richard and Sheryl, and Frank and Dwayne. Olive and Edwin were complements: Edwin helps Olive with her dance routine and teaches her the importance of trying over winning. Richard and Sheryl were (ironically) contrasts. They have differing opinions about raising their children and lessons in life. Lastly, Frank and Dwayne were two characters that were clear complements of each other. They did not know anything about each other at first, but they gradually learned from each other. Frank tells Dwayne about the importance of learning from suffering and Dwayne tells Frank about the importance of doing what one loves. I think that many films have fantastic characters, but I think that Little Miss Sunshine is a rare film that has all the characters’ personalities so deeply affect the others.
  4. One scene in Little Miss Sunshine that I will definitely remember is where Dwayne realizes he is colorblind. I think it is a powerful scene that shows the many aspects that make this film great - the acting, the writing, the cinematography, the characters’ personalities, and the family dynamic of the movie. Paul Dano’s acting as Dwayne is magnificent, and the audience feels that they are feeling the same pain as Dwayne. The shot is also really interesting because it has Dwayne and Olive in the front with the rest of the family in the background. It also shows the effect family can have on each other. Olive gets Dwayne to come back in the car even though Sheryl begged him to get in. This scene shows the realities and complexities that occur in families.
  5. As mentioned in the previous question, I loved watching the scene where Dwayne has a breakdown. However, I think the scene that struck me and made me the most emotional was the ending scene. I think it beautifully displays and summarizes the events and lessons that were learned in the movie. The Hoovers are much better at pushing their car to get it started, and even though Edwin isn’t there to help, they still get on. They run into the toll gate, which symbolizes that life is still rocky for them. However, they are all there to make it through. I think the ending shot of the car driving home perfectly exhibits how the family is moving forward to a new part of their life, together.
  6. I personally loved this movie. I think that it wonderfully portrays the aspects of a family and also goes in depth into how life doesn’t end when something bad happens. Even though all the characters have suffered, this does not mean that the journey was not worth it. I especially liked the scene where Frank tells Dwayne that he should not wish away his losses because he will learn from them. This movie views life in an interesting way. It says that is okay to lose because that does not mean you are a loser. What makes you a “winner” is that you learn from your sufferings and losses with the help of those around you.