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How Successfully is a Dysfunctional Family Portrayed in “Little Miss Sunshine”

Little miss sunshine demonstrates how unpredictable a family can be and regardless of that it also teaches us how hope and desire can be achieved. Olive Hoover is a seven-year-old girl who has a huge dream to win the beauty pageant, which is one of the most spectacular events for cute girls who dance imaginatively, sing marvellously and tells entertaining jokes. Olive’s father Richard is a committed teacher and a struggling motivational speaker trying to sell the ‘nine steps to success’ package. Olive’s mum Cheryl is a strong character who wants to bring the family together. Dwayne is also a strong character with a magnificent dream. He is determined to be silent till he joins the air force academy. Uncle Frank is a little-cheeky homosexual man who is extremely intelligent.

Richards’s dad is a drug addict and the opposite of what we expect. I am going to analyze three important scenes in the film to show how far eccentric a family is demonstrated. In the opening scene, all the family are shown separately and are busy in a part of their daily routine. Olive is rehearsing how to be a beauty queen copying the famous model scene and holding her Tummy while copying her. Dwayne is preparing himself for a competition and doing different types of workouts for certain parts of his body and then ticking the calendar, which shows he is working towards something and is determined to achieve it. Cheryl is smoking, driving and talking on the phone with Richard, this is really strange because it is illegal to do so and despite that she is lying to her husband by saying “I am not smoking” when she is as well as arguing that his brother Frank should stay on their house because he has nowhere else to go.

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The relationship between Richard and Cheryl is really remarkable because it is inappropriate for a wife to speak with her husband like that. Cheryl lying to his husband depicts that she is disrespecting him in a good way to bring the family together but it is still strange. Olive is mirroring how to be a famous beauty queen and she has been chosen as the finalist in C.M.S. Richard is a motivational speaker and a persuasive person and is saying, “you got two kinds of people in this world a winner and a loser if you want to be the winner learn my nine steps program for succeeding” this shows that he is curious and peculiar for his student to learn his nine steps and also he wants his students to be like him always ‘winner’.

When Richard comes back from his work he sees Frank on the dinner table with Dwayne and Richard say this to Frank “So glad you are here that makes one of us” this is a weird thing to say Richard because he himself is a teacher and should have said a warm-welcome but he is saying the opposite of what we really assume. This also shows how far a family unpredictable can be despite their intelligence, the relationship is far more than worse. At the beginning of the film, there is violin music being played to create a depressing atmosphere to contrast with the title of the film, this is because to make the audience excited and give them an insight views to a bizarre film. The use of music is when Cheryl enters the hospital to pick up Frank, as she enters the hospital corridor there is despondent music played in the background as well as the film title come up big on the screen “Little Miss Sunshine” to show that the film is not the way as it sounds, not shiny but hazy.

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Camera angles are positioned when olive at the start of the film copies the act of a famous role model and she rehearses her act because she believes that she can win the beauty Pageant and so by doing that to show his real character and a sign of hope for the audience of his age. Camera angles are also positioned to create a funky atmosphere when Granddad Open his pack of … to smoke and I think that is because to show how hopeless a family they are, each and every person in the family is doing something completely dysfunctional and imaginably abnormal. The use of different angles is to show different experiences and emotions. In this Granddad scene, the camera angle is a low-angle shot to makes the subject look powerful and threatening to show a sign of danger and that Granddad is going to be in a trouble situation at some point.

The use of colours is creepy from the beginning of the scene when Olive is wearing a childish red top to contrast with the model she is watching and despite that, the colour doesn’t match. When the camera angles change we can see that Olive’s magnificent red colour becomes glistening and it kind of make the living room shine. The other strange colour that is worn by characters is Dwayne; he is wearing a white top to show a sign of something impossible is going to happen and he is not going to achieve his goal and we know that in the final scene of the film that he is colour blind when he understands that he starts to blurt and says “I don’t want to be your family! I hate you people! I hate you! Divorce! Bankrupt! Suicide! You’re losers,” to show his feelings of dejection and all his hard work demolished within an instant.

The Hoover families are sitting down for a meal together just before Olive finds out that she is a finalist in the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant. Granddad swears at the food being provided is dysfunctional because we associate old people to be grateful and appreciative for what is on the table for lunch but he is not by swearing in front of children. Cheryl is trying to hold the family together by saying ” I want everyone to have at least a little salad” This shows that she cares for his family and want them to be healthy by making the salad, which is ‘super veg ‘ and it contains a high concentration of antioxidants which is beneficial for health. Olive wants to know what had happened to Uncle Frank, why did he want to commit suicide? Richard tries to stop the inappropriate conversation But Cheryl convinces Olive to talk and she says that she is going to find out it anyway.

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Richard is also talking about Dwayne saying he shows “tremendous discipline by being wordless and not talking to anyone for nine months” shows Dwayne’s determination to be successful and Richard is Patronizing him because to make him have self-belief, make him outstanding and makes him work harder than usual. Olive’s childish innocence shines through when she questions why? When she is talking to Frank. Richard’s relationship with Cheryl appears to be strained because usually or normally a husband and wife are amiable with each and in here we found out they are unfriendly and disrespected towards each other which shows a miserable time between husband and wife causes the downfall of a family and also portrayers the bizarreness of a dysfunctional family. Dwayne is writing notes “I hate everyone” and “I want to be left alone” instead of speaking and when her mum tells him to get the chicken from the back of the car he moves his head up and down instead of saying ‘OK Mum’ very erratic because he writes it when he should communicate properly with his family.

Olive is adorable and cute, her behaviour contrast with the family’s enthusiasm and her generosity to uncle frank contrasts with the dysfunctional behaviour of the family. Richard becomes very uninteresting by consistently talking about the nine steps; even the family is bored of it. When the car stops working at the border to California all the family is off to help Richard push the car during the pushing there is gloomy music being played to increase the audience’s tension and give a heartbroken message that Olive is going to miss the final of Little Miss Sunshine. The fact that the car broke down symbolizes the carelessness of the family. Music changes to a sad tone when Olive finds out that granddad has passed but she is not completely sure then the drum is increased to create tension and change the audience’s mind. In the morning Olive tries to wake Granddad but he doesn’t wake up and Olive is not sure that Granddad has passed away and then she goes to her Mum’s and Dad’s room to tell them Granddad doesn’t wake up, this once again shows an incapacitated family.

The Grandpa has recently passed away at the hospital whilst the Hoover families are rushing to reach California for Olive’s ‘little miss sunshine pageant. Richard asks if the body can be kept at the hospital while they go to California. It is hilarious indeed because he doesn’t care about his father and cares for his daughter is very unusual and only a dysfunctional family can do that, with no sympathy but strong determination to succeed in their daily life works. All the family is at the hospital and the body of grandpa is in front of them and they are having a conversation over it and what is going to happen with olive, is she going to participate in a beauty pageant or not? Cheryl admits that we can’t but Richards uses his nine steps to succeed and says ” Are we winners or the losers” this time it does make sense because they have come from a long way and they can’t have the journey wasted after all they have been through.

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The doctor yells “Linda” after informing them about the death of grandpa and when Linda comes Richard asks gently for something unusual if he can leave the body here for some time but Linda doesn’t care and speaks with a loud voice ” you are not the only person who’s had somebody died here today ok” this shows an unusual lack of pity. Olive fiddling with leaflet is strange because she is trying to distract himself from unpleasant and detestable circumstances and it is strange that as a child she is holding the whole family together. When Grandpa has passed there is a snapshot of the whole family and that is because to express or show each character’s sympathy and extreme emotion of loss. Shots of the body being transported out of the window are dysfunctional and when Richard persuades the family to steal the body the camera focuses on Olive to emphasize grandpa’s love and hope for her.

Exciting jazzy instrumental music is being played when the family takes the dead body of the granddad outside the window because to sound if somebody sees them then they would be in trouble. This is a very strange scene because everybody plays a role in it to succeed; it is very funny to imagine if there is a real family like them. In conclusion, I think “little miss sunshine” shows us a world in which there’s a form, an advertisement, a procedure, a job title, a diet, a step-by-step program, a career path, a prize, a retirement community, sort, categorize and process every human emotion or desire. Nothing exists that cannot be compartmentalized or segregated or turned into a self-improvement mantra about “winners and losers.

One of the strengths of the film was the charming character of olive; she was an unbelievable character with a massive dream in her hand to fulfill. She was in love with pretty much all member of the family but especially with his Granddad whom helped him a lot to enter the beauty pageant.

One of the weaknesses of the film was that granddad passed away just before the beauty pageant event and that was a mistake because if he was alive with believe he would have really entertain the audience by performing a funny dance with his family on the stage and I am sure the audience would have loved it.

My overall verdict of the Little miss sunshine film was that it was very entertaining, unpredictable and extradinary it makes you think how a dysfunctional family over-comes the complicated difficulties of life and I strongly recommend it to other people to watch because it involves real life problem and teaches you how to be successful using Richard’s nine step.

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How Successfully is a Dysfunctional Family Portrayed in "Little Miss Sunshine". (2021, Jun 09). Retrieved September 30, 2022, from