Little Miss Sunshine, Reporting For Duty!

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Visit the post for more. The movie Little Miss Sunshine made its first big screen appearance in 2006 instantly becoming a box office hit. This oddball comedy, written by Michael Arndt, who also won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and directed by Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, viewers are introduced to the Hoovers—a middle class six member endearing dysfunctional family (“Little Miss Sunshine.

'LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE'
(2006) (Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette) (R)
Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/GoreDisrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy None Heavy Minor Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None None Moderate Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
SmokingTense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Minor Heavy Heavy Minor
QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: A dysfunctional family must deal with their differences and idiosyncrasies as they try to drive the younger daughter out to a California beauty pageant.
PLOT:
Seven-year-old Olive Hoover (ABIGAIL BRESLIN) has always dreamed of being a beauty pageant winner, but she's also afraid of being a loser, the kind of person her father Richard (GREG KINNEAR) often disparages in his 9-step 'Refuse to Lose' motivational program he's trying to market. He's the overbearing sort of parent who's always looking for success in himself and others, but his dysfunctional family has him at wit's end. His caring wife Sheryl (TONI COLLETTE) now has her brother Frank (STEVE CARELL), a Proust scholar, living with them following a suicide attempt stemming from his gay lover leaving him for another man, and Richard isn't happy about that.

Their teenage son, Dwayne (PAUL DANO), who wants to fly planes for the Air Force, is an avid reader of Nietzsche and has taken a vow of silence, writing his angry thoughts on paper, while his lascivious grandfather (ALAN ARKIN), has been kicked out of his retirement home for snorting heroin, and is now living with them. When they get word that Olive has made it into the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in California, they try to put their differences aside and drive set off from Albuquerque in their old VW bus.

Beset by various obstacles and complications over their several-day trip, they come together as a family unit with the sole goal of getting Olive entered into the pageant before time runs out.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Older teens might be interested in it, as might those who are fans of anyone in the cast.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language, some sex and drug content.
Free
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFOCurious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


(Note: The 'Our Take' review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
Here's a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated comedy. Profanity consists of at least 30 'f' words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are uttered. Sexually explicit dialogue is present, as is a song with sexually related lyrics (heard as a 7-year-old performs a risqué act in a beauty pageant). Some porn magazines are briefly seen (showing nudity and apparent sexual acts), and a character is noted as being gay.

Other thematic elements include talk of a failed suicide attempt, dysfunctional families, and the way in which child beauty pageants sexualize the young contestants. Tense family material (including parents arguing, the death of a family member, and a sullen teenager) is present, as is some behavior that might be enticing to imitate.

Little Miss Sunshine Reporting For Duty Purposes

A grandfather snorts heroin and is noted as having a problem with that, while some alcohol and tobacco use also occurs, and various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes.

If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

One mole of a substance. For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there are varying amounts of camera movement (sometimes a lot of handheld) during the movie.

  • Grandpa snorts heroin and then reacts to that.
  • We hear that Grandpa was kicked out of his retirement home due to his heroin use.
  • We see a still-sealed bottle of champagne in a man's store bag.
  • Some miscellaneous guys have beer.
  • We see a photo of Frank and his former lover holding glasses of champagne.
  • Grandpa takes out his heroin to ingest, but we don't see the actual use.
  • It's suggested that an older person has died from using heroin.
  • Miscellaneous people have cocktails in a hotel.
  • None.
  • Richard has a bad attitude toward others (including Frank) who he believes are losers or have losing attitudes.
  • Grandpa gives advice to Dwayne to f*ck a lot of women,' adding not one, but a lot. He then asks Dwayne if he's 'getting any' and when Dwayne indicates he isn't, Grandpa tells him he should be getting the 'young stuff' that he claims is the best stuff in the world. He then comments on such jailbait and says it's okay since Dwayne is also jailbait and that it will change when the boy turns 18.
  • Grandpa refers to Frank as a 'homo' and later uses the term 'fag rag' for a gay porno magazine.
  • Richard says not to apologize, as it's a sign of weakness.
  • Richard tells Frank to 'shut up.'
  • Richard tells Olive she shouldn't have ice cream since it will make her fat.
  • Richard and Sheryl loudly argue after his deal has apparently fallen through. That night, Dwayne hears them arguing through the wall.
  • Some viewers might not like that Dwayne wears a t-shirt that reads, 'Jesus was wrong.'
  • Richard convinces everyone to take a family member's dead body with them, so they smuggle it out the hospital window, put it in the back of their VW bus and speed away (played as dark comedy).
  • For those sensitive about such matters, we see a sheet covering a recently deceased person's body.
  • We see a poster showing a diagram drawing of a fighter jet with its accompanying missile array.
  • A cop wears a sidearm.
  • Phrases: 'I'm so f*cking tired,' 'F*ck you,' 'It was a f*cking paradise,' 'F*cked' (nonsexual), 'What a f*cking nightmare,' 'F*ck the nine steps,' 'I rammed it down their f*cking throats,' 'I hate you f*cking people,' 'You f*cking losers,' 'F*ck that,' 'Life is one f*cking beauty pageant after another,' 'F*ck the rest,' 'This place is f*cked,' 'F*ck them,' 'They do that horsesh*t every weekend,' 'For crying out loud,' 'Welcome to Hell' (written), 'Homo,' 'You dumb bastard,' 'What the hell?' 'Fag rag,' 'We can tell them all to go to hell,' 'I'll be damned,' 'Total loser,' what sounded like 'Funky-licious' and 'She's kicking ass.'
  • Some kids might be enticed to imitate Dwayne and his vow of silence (where he writes his thoughts on paper).
  • Dwayne shoots the paper cover off his straw at his dad.
  • Trying to get Olive to her pageant on time, Richard drives through a parking lot gate (the moveable arm type). Later, when leaving, he does the same thing.
  • A miscellaneous man has tattoos on his arms.
  • As her talent in a beauty pageant, 7-year-old Olive (as previously coached by her grandfather who also chose her music) dances to the Rick James song 'Super Freak' (that contains non-explicit, but sexually related lyrics). She also rips off her pants and then top like a stripper might (she's still clothed beneath so no skin is seen), but does some stripper like moves (including moving a boa type article across her clothed rear end). The rest of the family then eventually joins her and dances to the song, including Dwayne doing some pelvic thrusts to the beat.
  • None.
  • None.
  • Rick James' song 'Super Freak' contains sexually related lyrics.
  • At least 30 'f' words (3 used sexually, as is the term 'getting any'), 3 's' words, 1 slang term for male genitals ('Johnson'), 3 hells, 2 damns, 1 ass, 1 crap, 1 S.O.B., 4 uses of 'G-damn,' 3 of 'Oh my God,' 2 each of 'Oh God' and 'Oh Jesus' and 1 use each of 'Christ,' 'For God's sake,' 'God,' 'Holy God Almighty' and 'Swear to God.'
  • We hear that Frank was in love with a male graduate student who left him for another man.
  • Grandpa complains that he's so tired that even if a girl came up and asked him to 'f*ck her,' he couldn't. He then gives advice to Dwayne to f*ck a lot of women,' adding not one, but a lot. He then asks Dwayne if he's 'getting any' and when Dwayne indicates he isn't, Grandpa tells him he should be getting the 'young stuff' that he claims is the best stuff in the world. He then comments on such jailbait and says it's okay since Dwayne is also jailbait and that it will change when the boy turns 18.
  • Grandpa refers to Frank as a 'homo' and later uses the term 'fag rag' for a gay porno magazine.
  • Grandpa says that with the four to one ratio of women to men in his former retirement home, he was getting so much action that 'I had second degree burns on my Johnson.' He then reiterates to Dwayne to 'f*ck a lot of women.'
  • Grandpa says he likes women with 'meat on their bones.'
  • When they stop at a gas station convenience store, Grandpa tells Frank to get him some porn (adding that he wants the heavy duty stuff) and for Frank to get himself a 'fag rag.' We then see Frank looking over the magazine covers (with titles such as 'Buns' and 'Big Butts.' Some of the women show cleavage and a few are seen in skimpy attire (such as bra and/or bikini tops), but there's no outright nudity.
  • In the background of a shot, we can see the image of a woman in a small bikini swimming laps in a pool (she's underwater and we can tell she's in a bikini, but can't see any details).
  • A cop finds the earlier purchased porno magazines when they fall out of the back of Richard's VW bus. The cop likes the look of them (including a full rear nude view of a shapely woman on the cover, another shot that appears to show missionary sex, etc.), but balks at a gay magazine cover that shows a man with an open shirt and a headline 'Cocked and Loaded.'
  • As her talent in a beauty pageant, 7-year-old Olive (as previously coached by her grandfather who also chose her music) dances to the Rick James song 'Super Freak' (that contains non-explicit, but sexually related lyrics). She also rips off her pants and then top like a stripper might (she's still clothed beneath so no skin is seen), but does some stripper like moves (including moving a boa type article across her clothed rear end). The rest of the family then eventually joins her and dances to the song, including Dwayne doing some pelvic thrusts to the beat.
  • Sheryl smokes at least twice.
  • Dwayne writes to Frank that he hates everyone. When Frank asks about his family, Dwayne underlines the word 'everyone.'
  • Richard and Sheryl loudly argue about discussing Frank's suicide attempt at the dinner table and then about how they're going to travel to Olive's pageant.
  • Richard tells Olive she shouldn't have ice cream since it will make her fat.
  • Richard and Sheryl loudly argue after his deal has apparently fallen through. That night, Dwayne hears them arguing through the wall.
  • Spoiler Alert: Olive wakes up her parents to inform them that she can't get her grandfather to wake up. We then see all of them in the hospital where they receive news that he's died. Sheryl is shaken up, but needing to meet their deadline, Richard convinces everyone to take the body with them, so they smuggle it out the hospital window, put it in the back of their VW bus, and speed away (played as dark comedy).
  • Learning that he can't be a pilot, Dwayne starts punching and kicking the inside of the VW bus until Richard pulls over. He then tells his mom, 'I hate you f*cking people' (although he apologizes for that not long after the fact).
  • Dysfunctional families.
  • Young girls being sexualized or at least made up to look like adults in childhood beauty pageants (in this one, most are wearing adult type makeup and some appear in children's bikinis).
  • Suicide attempts - We learn that Frank tried to kill himself (he has bandages on his wrist). He later explains he did because his gay lover left him for another guy (who then was named the best Proust scholar) and because he was fired from his job.
  • Homosexuality.
  • Richard's comment that there are winners and losers in the world.
  • We hear that Grandpa was kicked out of his retirement home due to his heroin use.
  • Richard says not to apologize, as it's a sign of weakness.
  • The comment that sarcasm is the refuge of losers.
  • Olive cries and tells Grandpa that she doesn't want to be a loser (he reassures her that she isn't and won't be).
  • Dwayne discovering that he's colorblind and thus can't be a pilot.
  • Frank is a Proust scholar.
  • The comment that one learns when suffering in life.
  • Learning that he can't be a pilot, Dwayne starts punching and kicking the inside of the VW bus until Richard pulls over.
  • Trying to get Olive to her pageant on time, Richard drives through a parking lot gate (the moveable arm type). Later, when leaving, he does the same thing.
  • When an emcee tries to stop Olive from performing her talent portion of the pageant, Richard rushes up and struggles with the man before being restrained by guards.

  • Reviewed June 13, 2006 / Posted August 4, 2006 Other new and recent reviews include:
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    Little Miss Sunshine Reporting For Duty Free

    In a cinematic world of superhero action films and suspense filled thrillers that keep audiences on the edge of their seats, it is rare when a film like Little Miss Sunshine manages to rise above the independent film label to become a major box office success. Due in large part to the common themes of family dysfunction, hopes, fears, and the American dream, it combined such independent film staples as quirky characters and deep philosophical themes to create a movie that appealed to both the most sophisticated and entertainment-craved viewers.

    By examining such themes as life, death, and alienation, Little Miss Sunshine is far more than a simple indie film that scored big, and is more a reflection of the deterioration of commercial American cultural, but the perseverance of the American family in spite of it all.

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    The movie Little Miss Sunshine made its first big screen appearance in 2006 instantly becoming a box office hit. This oddball comedy, written by Michael Arndt, who also won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and directed by Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, viewers are introduced to the Hoovers—a middle class six member endearing dysfunctional family (“Little Miss Sunshine (2006)”).

    Richard and Sheryl Hoover lead lives of quiet desperation, with Richard trying unsuccessfully to find financing for his inspirational book, which is really just his overly optimistic views on how to be successful. Unfortunately for Richard, his life is anything but successful, and money and familial anxieties. Sheryl is doing her best to balance her patience with running the household, which includes the ever-energetic Olive, perhaps a reflection of the life view Richard is trying to sell; Dwayne, who has vowed silence and reads Nietzsche for pleasure; Grandpa, who curses and abuses hard drugs; and Frank, her gay, intellectual brother fresh from a suicide attempt. While this family is far different than most, collectively their hopes and fears end up being exactly like everyone else’s. Each family member is alienated, not only from each other, but from the world that seems to continuously reject them. Each wants only love and companionship, and even though they have each other, initially, none of them see that and continue to dwell upon their flaws and the flaws of society. The Hoovers say much about American culture and family systems and how it is important to learn to love yourself and others despite flaws.

    Though each adult and semi-adult character is alienated, most of the purity of heart and intensions comes from the youngest and oldest members of the clan. Olivia, with her enthusiasm, single-handedly unites the family in a common goal, while Grandpa tries to live his life and do as he pleases, including drugs. However, the writer Arndt, could be trying to make a statement about the innocence of youth and of old age, as these two characters seem the most authentic, at least to themselves and others. When Olive receives notification about her entrance into the Little Miss Sunshine child beauty pageant, her enthusiasm wins over the rest of the family, and despite financial and relationship problems, they have no choice but to help her live her dream. This leads to what essentially turns the movie into a road trip picture, with the Hoovers traveling westward from Albuquerque to sunny California in order to fulfill Olive’s dream of winning the Little Miss Sunshine pageant.

    As the trip begins, the family seems to be at low points in their lives as far as health, marriage, and work, and through their passive aggressive communication, reveal the extent of their despair. Richard cannot help but preach his morals to the family, though his family’s complete disinterest and dismissal echoes the lack of interest from the financers he seeks to give him support. Brother Dwayne expresses his despair by not speaking at all, which is the philosophy Frank adopts in the beginning; he simply has not much to say, considering he recently tried to kill himself. The one thing that Frank continues to reference when identifying himself is that he is the “foremost authority on Proust” (Little Miss Sunshine). This is significant because Proust is known for Remembrance of Things Past, recollecting the days of his childhood from present items. This could be significant to Little Miss Sunshine, as all the characters except for Olive seem to be holding on to memories, whether good or bad, which consequently affects their demeanor. Grandpa spends much of his time encouraging Dwayne to live his life to the fullest, much to the chagrin of Richard. The themes of regret, generational disparity, and the purity of honest run through just above every interaction Grandpa has with his son and his son’s family. His death along the ride marks a transition for the family, from a discordant unit of individuals pulling in the wrong direction to a single unit working together despite their differences. The way they achieve their unity at the end is by going outside their comfort zones and accepting their flaws as individuals and as a unit. Though, much of this could be analyzed as anything from political messages signifying that despite Americans’ differences, they can still come together to achieve something good, perhaps even as a commentary on the war in Iraq; more likely, this film is merely a pro-family film with a message saying if a person cannot rise above the pettiness that often separates people, there is always love where it is least expected on one hand, and required on the other.

    The theme of family in the movie is difficult to ignore. Each family is a system, and if one part of the system has a problem it becomes the problem of the whole family system not just the person who is in trouble or has the problem. This takes several spins in the film one time as the Richard hates losers so passionately that the daughter tries her hardest to be a winner, severely affected by his way of thinking; thankfully, Grandpa presents the opposite views, though equally extreme. This is one of many situations presented in the film that viewers can identify with, and the generational education can be seen from Grandpa, Richard’s rejection of it, Dwayne’s rejection of Richard’s philosophy, and Olive’s acceptance of everything. She is a sponge, and though many parents fail to always realize just how big of an impression they have or leave on their children, Richard, Sheryl, and Grandpa do understand, illuminating an important issue. And much like many independent films, it is the fundamental issue of existence that is questioned.

    The meaning of life is the main theme throughout the film. Many people think they know the meaning, many presume not to know, and some, like Olive, simply live and love. Dwayne, through his philosophy and plans to distance himself from the family, is just beginning to define his existence on his own. Olive defines her existence through Little Miss Sunshine, which in essence, she becomes. And, even though Richard continuously loses, despite emphasizing the importance of winning, he defines himself as the latter. The writer Arndt breaks down ideas from the notion that dividing winners from losers is an oversimplification that leads to the misery to each characters goal representing a degree of idealism. For each person in the Hoover family a value is at stake, and how they define themselves slowly becomes how they define each other. As families like the Hoovers struggle with big issues, the film shows that it is best to have a supportive system for all involved that will love and try to do what is best for the whole, not the individual parts. And, despite their dysfunctions, the family learns from each other and how to be a family.

    Despite debt, an attempted suicide, death, heavy existential issues, and the creepiness of child beauty pageants, the movie is portrayed in a quirky manner. Dayton and Faris, with their music video background, use bright colors and well-placed music to add to the comedy and drama. One of the most colorful items in the film, almost a character itself, is the family’s yellow VW Bus, which in essence could literally be the family’s conduit to unity. It also echoes the “sunshine” of the title. Interesting angles, offbeat dialogue, and wonderful performances make this film much more than a simple independent film or family drama. In the end, the affirmation of the self and community and family comes through far more than the many interesting devices used. Even though the film centers around the trip to Little Miss Sunshine pageant, by the time the family arrives, the invasion of this social event almost seems like an extreme superfluity to the family life the Hoovers finally started to live. If anything else, the film suggests that family is stronger than culture, no matter how important it is often believed to be. After viewing the film, Little Miss Sunshine becomes far more than just a name of a pageant, and becomes a way to live life

    Works Cited:

    Little Miss Sunshine. Dir. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Perfs. Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette,

    Abigail Breslin. 20th Century Fox, 2006.

    “Little Miss Sunshine (2006)”. Internet Movie Database. 2008. 21 Jul 2008.

    Little Miss Sunshine Reporting For Duty California

    <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0449059/>.