Comedy meets drama.
Road Trip comedy movies with dysfunctional characters stuck together is not something new. But the beauty of Little Miss Sunshine is in its capability of mixing comedy and drama.
Little Miss Sunshine achieves a middle ground that many movies miss. The average viewer will laugh many times, but the underlying seriousness of the film's messages is not lost in its dark comedy.
A sharply cut opening sequence of quick character-establishing scenes underlines that this is an especially problematic clan. We see the film through Olive.
The 7 year old underdog with big dream in her eyes. She is glue for the family and for the audience, the only family member with hopes and love in her eyes. She brought together the whole family for a trip that no one seems to be interested. So like a every hero's journey. The characters leave for the new world . The new world is the yellow van which i find a character by itself. The journey is filled with roadblocks, bickering, issues, dreams shattering, choices and also an unexpected death. We see gradual change in everyone's characters except olives. To be honest she was the only character that didn't need to change to begin with.
The film sets up like an underdog film where a plum and a very average girl wants to win a beauty pageant which is not unusual. Its very common in films for the underdogs to win. That's why we love watching films so that we can root for someone.. Thus the bunch of dysfunctional group of characters that doesn’t get along sets out to achieve a seemingly unattainable goal and through a series of ups and downs. In the very beginning the filmmakers establishes that the girl is given a chance to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant by a chance not by her talent, reinforcing her underdog status.
Challenging Conventional Social Believes
As Olive’s journey progresses, She begins to doubt herself and her ability to win many a times in the film, at one point questioning her body image. Where she refuses her ice cream because her father Richard warns her that ice cream will make her fat. But after some convincing she eats her ice cream. In this moment, she chooses happiness over social standard beauty. The film has many such moment which challenges many socially accepted norms and believes.
The film also deals with its underlying concept of Winners and Losers. Who are real winners actually? The one who never fails or the one who is never afraid to fail. Grandpa through his raw nature enforces many ya times that winning is all about trying your guts out rather than just getting scared of rejection. Our underdog eventually performs on the stage even after realising she is totally out of place with all the other barbie dolls by dedicating her performance to her grandpa. She does what makes her happy.
The literary References
Frank (Steve Carell) and Dwayne (Paul Dano). These two characters synthesize the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche and Marcel Proust, combining elements of both and concluding that people should do what they want to do in order to be happy.
The two characters who are most obviously in emotional pain are the two most philosophically evolved. Both Frank and Dwayne are introspective, intelligent characters whose need to develop and live in accordance with a personal philosophy appears to be connected to their capacity for personal suffering. Nietzsche and Proust both viewed suffering as essential in spiritual progress.
But at this stage Dwayne misunderstands Nietzsche, whose nihilism was not a rejection of life but an affirmation of an authentic life unbound by false values.
Frank gets through to his nephew with a lesson from the writings of Proust: suffering makes us who we are. Frank tells Dwayne that Proust decided that "all those years he suffered, those were the best years of his life, 'because they made him who he was.
With a little help from two of the greatest minds in philosophy and literature, Little Miss Sunshine teaches us that it's okay to disagree with societal expectations, and it's the suffering we experience along the way that makes us who we are.
Simple but thought provoking. This slice of film plays on the emotions of the audience and forces one to look at the dysfunction they may be currently suffering. "Little Miss Sunshine" is THAT kind of film...it's the kind of film that makes you laugh, makes you cry, makes you think and makes you feel. It presents its characters, the Hoover family, with honesty..
Blessed with a cast who "gets it" and a script that doesn't force it, .
If you are looking for a beautiful dose of innocence and intricate ways in which life and family hurts it and protects it and yet your innocence endures it, Little Miss Sunshine is the one to brighten your day and make you accept the beautiful mess that is life and go "You can't touch this" with MC Hammer.