Little Miss Sunshine

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Film analysis – Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine, released in 2006, is a comic drama written by Michael Arndt and directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. It follows the adventures of the Hoover family when they embark on a road trip, to take Olive, the youngest of the family, to participate in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. As the Hoovers travel from their home city Albuquerque to California, the directors satirise aspects of American society through irony, stereotypes, narration and filmic techniques. Some aspects that have been satirised in the movie were dysfunctional families, personal failure and sexuality.

Throughout Little Miss Sunshine the importance of family is emphasised despite there being conflicts and this is shown by satirising aspects of the dysfunctional family stereotype. Scenes one to six are juxta-positioned to establish the characters. Each character is introduced one at a time giving the audience an insight into their vulnerabilities, foreshadowing the stereotype that this is a dysfunctional family. The first scene introduces the protagonist Olive, showing her watching the Miss America contest on TV while mimicking the movements of the winner. Olive is clearly not a natural beauty in her fishbowl glasses and dorky looking shorts and t-shirt. The following scenes introduce the other characters, Richard, a self help speaker who is unconvincing, Dwayne, a hard working and focused teenager wanting to become a jet pilot feeling confused and agonising being influenced by the philosophies of Nietzsche, Edwin, a heroin taking grandfather (ironically not typical of his age group), Sheryl, the stressed out mother and Frank, Sheryl’s gay brother who attempted suicide.

Following these opening scenes everyone is together at the dinner table and the directors focus on the different conflicting personalities, consolidating the dysfunctional family stereotype. It begins when Edwin complains about Sheryl bringing home...
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