Lil Miss Sunshine

| Little Miss Sunshine | The film Little Miss Sunshine, directed by Jonathon Dayton and Valerie Faris, is about a dysfunctional family that take a road trip to a beauty contest, learning about relationships, failure and success, hopes and dreams along the way. Within this film, main topics such as dysfunctional families and personal failures arose as major components that made this movie what it was, along with showing the struggles people in society face today. Little Miss Sunshine is based on the idea of a dysfunctional learning how to get through the impossible struggles that life throws at them.

I believe that many families have issues with each other, such as personalities clashing, and difficult situations arising. In my opinion, my family is the definition of dysfunctional. With recently being the child of parents going through a messy divorce, involving many fights and yelling competitions between all members of my family. This however, helps me have a better understanding of this film, and its lack of steadiness within the family. However, this family is believed to be the over exaggerated version of a dysfunctional family. This family’s problems were first presented in the first family dinner shown in this film.

It shows how all the extreme individual personalities clash, with no-one being united together within members of the family. It beings with everyone coming to the table to eat, following with Grandpa complaining about having chicken for dinner yet again. After this, there is a conversation between Frank and Olive about why Frank had tried to kill himself. With suicide being a very sensitive and complicated topic, there were disagreements between Cheryl and Richard, the parents, about whether Olive, a young child, should hear why her uncle tried to kill himself.

The dinner continues to a significant part in this scene where Cheryl and Olive listen to a voicemail on the answering machine, explaining that due to a disqualification in the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant, Olive had been accepted by default to compete. When this news was announced, Olive became extremely happy and excited, running off to her room to get ready for the trip ahead. Fights began between the parents due to the financial aspects of this trip. This was due to not being able to afford to fly there, resorting to driving their van to Redondo Beach, California.

The fights between the parents became extremely vocal, with sparks flying between the couple, showing past pressures with money due to Richards present failing career in promoting the “9 steps” he is attempting to enforce within society. This situation shows how this family is extremely dysfunctional, with decent communication between family members slipping away, replaced with yelling, fighting and misunderstanding between each other. Personal failures in my opinion help build character within a person, Richard on the other hand believes otherwise.

I know that in my life I would not have learnt as many things as I have, if I did not have my own failures and realise how I should learn from them. Personal failures are something every person must learn to deal with in life. No matter how hard you try, you will not succeed in everything, especially the first time around. Richard is a character that has the inability to be sympathetic towards other people’s failures, even his own. He tries to pressure Olive into a competitive and winning attitude towards the Little Miss Sunshine contest. Richard says in the film, “It’s not about luck.

Luck is the name losers give to their own failings – it’s about wanting to win”. Richard reminds me a lot of my own father, who believes that if you don’t win, they you haven’t accomplished a thing. He also believes that personal failings are only a sign of weakness, and feels no sympathy to those who do not succeed, especially himself. This helps me have a better understanding towards the character due to going through similar situations in my own life with my dad. I believe they are both wrong as sometimes it is not always about winning, it’s about the journey, the experiences, and learning from your mistakes.

Nobody can possibly win at everything in life, but a person can look at the positives within a negative situation. An important quote in the film, I believe should be the real definition of ‘losers’. “Losers are people who are so afraid of winning – they don’t even try. ” Grandpa says this to Olive, and I believe that this is an extremely good quote due to it being so true in society. For myself, I think this is a good thing to teach children. With pressures from society, people at a young age can have the thought drilled into their mind that winning really is everything. In y opinion, children these days need to understand the importance of learning how to lose, how to accept failure, and how to learn from their mistakes. Richard is a father, just like my own, who tries to promote that winning really is everything in life, and that you are a loser if you fail. However, in the film he is considered the biggest failure of all. This is due to the fact that at the end of the day, winning really isn’t everything, it is just a reward for your efforts. Richard is considered as a strong minded, opinionated, and stubborn character, whose views cannot be altered.

Cheryl however, has noticed that this stubborn person is tearing her family apart. The only shining light of hope and happiness in the family is Olive, a young girl who is happy within herself. Cheryl does everything in her power to try to stop Richard for corrupting her young mind with the thought that winning is the only thing worth going for. At the end of the film, just before Olive is meant to go on stage to show her ‘talent’, she says, “We have to let Olive – be Olive”. This is how I believe parenting should be. You have to let your children have a bit of freedom to figure out what kind of person they would like to be.

Cheryl was a smart mother who did not want to promote running away due to being afraid of failure or being laughed at for doing what they loved. The film, Little Miss Sunshine successfully portrays an extremely dysfunctional family that faces many problems and situations throughout its entire journey to Redondo Beach, California. Within their dysfunctional ways, and personal failings, the family still worked together and in the end succeeded in the best way possible. This was not in winning Little Miss Sunshine, but by becoming a true family, accepting each other’s differences and failures, and loving each other regardless.