“Think of all the trouble you’re going to miss.”
Picture it – it’s 2006 and you’re standing in the aisles of your local Blockbuster. Your parents are searching through the drama, but you’ve been banished to the “family” aisle. Bored with options, you turn your attention to the preview playing on the small, dented television above the register. “Little Miss Sunshine” is displayed in large letters on the screen.
You see a van, a family smiling, and a little girl who looks a bit like you. You run to your parents, point at the screen and ask them if you can rent it. They see the screen and find the film in a row of DVD cases. Your mother reads, “Little Miss Sunshine… Rated R, sorry sweetie!” Then he decides to rent it out to watch without you. Devastated, you asked permission to look at it before returning it. However, it’s not a no every time. Finally, you let it go, but you never do really Forget about it Finally, you’re old, R-rated movie age, and realize you can watch this movie.
Do what you do.
A long awaited meeting
Little Miss Sunshine It came out in the summer of 2006, and I wasn’t allowed to see it. I was 7, just like the protagonist Olive, which made me even angrier at my parents. If he can be in it, why can’t I watch it? I think now I understand why- there were things like curses, drugs, death, etc. that I didn’t understand in a way that was important enough to justify my viewing at the time. All that being said- I was self conscious about my body when I was 7 years old. I think if my 7-year-old ears heard Miss California Olive say that she loves ice cream, especially Cherry Garcia, that Important that a way will resonate with me. There was a moment, just a moment, where I felt seen. I know it’s true because I felt it when I saw it today, in my 20s.
Little Miss Sunshine Focuses on a family of neatly cast misfits looking for meaning and purpose in everyday life. They all have baggage, some heavier than others, and they all have to figure out how to make it work. The story revolves around their journey to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant, where young Olive wants to win the crown and fulfill her dream of becoming a beauty queen. Her strict and corporate-minded father, overworked mother, brooding brother, doting grandfather, and recent hospital release uncle all work together to get her where she needs to be, whatever that may be. Pushing a battered VW van through the desert, discussing lived trauma, and taking the stage to support the little girl who still carries hope in her heart brings them together in a way they never expected, and it takes the audience right in. with
Childhood beauty pageant
There are many memorable moments in this film. In one scene, we see Olive and company having a dinner together before returning to the road. Olive asks her mother Cheryl Hoover while looking at the menu (Toni Collette) can he get. “Anything under $4” Mrs. Hoover told him. Goes with olive waffles that come with ice cream on top. His mother immediately asks him if he is sure he wants to eat it for breakfast. Olive confirms, and the order is placed.
After some idle chit-chat, her father, Richard Hoover (Greg Keener) speaks. “Can I tell you something about ice cream? Well, ice cream is made from cream, which comes from cow’s milk, and cream has a lot of fat.” Cheryl tries to cut him off but he tells her that Olive is going to find out the truth anyway. “When you eat ice cream, the fat from the ice cream is in your body. Get fat. So if you eat a lot of ice cream, you can get fat and if you don’t, you’re going to stay nice and skinny sweetie! It’s clear that her words on olives carry more weight than any amount of fattening ice cream.
Maybe it sounds silly but, how many times have I sat at the table as Olive reminded me at that dinner with my parents, because I “don’t want to be fat”, compared to times when I exist in abundance felt like Olive in that ice cream validation moment. As a young girl in the early 2000s, I wanted to be nothing more than the flat-bellied models I saw on magazine covers every day. I’ve seen commercials for Weight Watchers between episodes The biggest misfortune. I knew Jenny Craig before I knew all the presidents’ names.
The diet culture that rotted my brain as a young girl, striving for the unattainable by any means necessary, is one of the complex issues on full display slowly but surely throughout this film. Embellished with the suffering of a family bound together by nothing but promise, this story illuminates the pressures the world places on the shoulders of everyday people in a way that feels nothing short of familiar.
If you’re color blind, you can’t fly a jet
Brother Dwayne Hoover (Paul Dano) is a brooding, emo, teenager with a dream. He wants to fly a jet more than anything in the world. So, he took a vow of silence until he went to flight school. Nietzsche is an underlying inspiration. Throughout the film, Dwayne does not speak at all. He is really bit committed, and only communicates through writing to his family and those around him.
The audience doesn’t get to know much about Dwayne until the end of the film. This is revealed by an eye test while sitting in the back seat of the van with Uncle Frank (Steve Carell) that Dwayne is color blind. After this revelation, Frank tells Dwayne that if you’re color blind, you can’t fly a jet. Dwayne silently began beating the back of the van. After being pulled over by his father, he threw himself out of the van and ran down a hill off the highway. It is there that we finally hear his voice. Dwayne cries out in agony, yelling single obscenities and crying violently. The audience feels his pain as he discovers that what he longs for is beyond his reach, through no fault of his own. The uncontrollable nature of life has robbed him of something, and he has nothing to do but mourn.
A sunshine story that means something
Little Miss Sunshine A way that means so much to the mundane. We’ve all had our, “You can’t fly a jet if you’re color blind” moment, and if you’re not- you have (sorry). The relativity of the pain in the film makes it even better to watch. Suffering doesn’t sound like something that would make a movie good see However, in this case, it serves as a vehicle in the character’s mind. The pain these characters endure is truly natural, and it allows a viewer to see that their suffering has made them who they are in the short hour and 45 minutes we get to know them. Olive has a childish use of this suffering, but the visible register that it exists. It’s a great picture of innocence and how it does what it can to be content in the world.
The world is good despite its flaws in the eyes of an innocent bystander. Even when the worst is right, it must be seen. At the end of the day the movie is a family story. A family that suffers. That means whether they are absorbing it or not, they are experiencing it. But they are trying to experience it in the name of getting something important- Little Miss Sunshine. They endure their hardships and take a small VW bus to ensure Olive’s chance to win. A win they all want, but eventually realize they can’t really get it. Their love for her despite their circumstances unites them in a disjointed way, but it’s definitely important in a way.