By the end of this film you will have laughed and cried, gotten emotionally involved and maybe a little confused.
Little Miss Sunshine
For a film based upon a dysfunctional family’s struggle across America to enter their daughter into a beauty pageant – Little Miss Sunshine should go down in history as a modern classic; an absolutely wonderful cinematic release. With an outstanding cast, Little Miss Sunshine hit home with an original storyline that delivered humour, real emotions and heartfelt relationships between the characters. By the end of this film you will have laughed and cried, gotten emotionally involved and maybe a little confused – and it’s one of my favourite films.
At the very beginning of the film the family sit down for dinner, Olive (Abigail Breslin) finds out that she has been given a place in this year’s Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant – she lets out a scream of joy and runs around the house getting things together to take with her. Olive’s mom, Sheryl Hoover (Toni Colette) and her dad, Richard Hoover (Greg Kinnear) argue how they are to get there due to not being able to afford travel expenses. After a heated discussion they finally settle on driving the 1000 miles in their minivan.
During the course of the family’s road trip the family experiences are both laughable and heartfelt, being comedic yet sometimes sad, you begin to fall in love with each character and relate to them on different levels. Little Miss Sunshine focuses on pushing forth the idea of living the American Dream – with Richard trying hard to become a motivational speaker, but failing – ironically, since his speeches are about winning. Olive is striving to become a beauty queen with the help of her WWII veteran, heroin addicted grandfather. Olive’s brother Dwayne (Paul Dano) has taken a vow of silence until he achieves his dream of becoming a RAF pilot and their uncle, Frank (Steve Carell) is being forced to stay with them whilst he recovers having just attempted suicide.
The inspiration of the story came from an article Michael Ardnt (who wrote the film) read in a newspaper, where Arnold Schwarzenegger was quoted speaking to a group of high school students: “If there’s one thing in this world I hate, it’s losers. I despise them” – Ardnt then began to develop the story for Little Miss Sunshine on this principle: “I thought there’s something so wrong with that attitude…I wanted to…attack that idea that in life you’re going up or you’re going down. So to a degree a child beauty pageant is the epitome of the ultimate stupid meaningless competition people put themselves through”.
Dwayne towards the latter part of the film memorably says, “You know what? Fuck beauty contests. Life is one fucking beauty contest after another. School, then college, then work…fuck that. And fuck the Air Force Academy. If I want to fly, I’ll find a way to fly. You do what you love, and fuck the rest.” – a speech that Ardnt will have made sure, made its way into the script in order to emphasise the entire meaning behind the film in a very subtle but obvious way.
Little Miss Sunshine was nominated for several Academy Awards, and came home with Best Original Screenplay for Michael Ardnt and Best Supporting Actor for Alan Arkin. “Grandpa” played by Arkin was well deserving of this award, however all characters played a vital role in the films success, each character being so important to the story and understanding the different relationships between the family.
I love Little Miss Sunshine, it’s a fantastic independent epic that demonstrated not only a shocking realism to dysfunctional family relationships, behaviours and hardships, but demonstrated it in such a way that it wasn’t miserable, it wasn’t depressing – it was moving, smart and very funny.