Skip to content

Little Miss Sunshine

December 28, 2006

No doubt you’ve heard of Little Miss Sunshine, but have you seen it? Should you see it? Well, if dysfunctional families who love each other and are trying to make sense and purpose out of life frighten you, then probably not. lmsun

On the other hand, if you appreciate real, earthy characters, and stories pulled from everyday life (well, almost), and road trips, then you’ll want to brighten your day by renting this DVD. Ironically, Little Miss Sunshine is anything but sunny. It’s imperfect characters are shaped by addiction to one thing or another, as are we all. Each character captures an “ism” or philosphy of life: Grandpa is addicted to heroin and sex (hedonism), Uncle Frank academia and a lost love/boyfriend (intellectualism), Dwyane silence and Neitszche (nihilism), Richard/dad motivational speaking (self-helpism), Sheryl/mom cigarettes and being all things to all members of the family (postmodernism), and finally Olive who is a composite character, part niave and part beauty queen (materialism). This motley crew of characters screams the question: Who is the glue or the solution to all these problems? [Feel free to comment]

Through the course of the film everyone’s solution to happiness is exposed for what it is–infinitely short of success. Grandpa’s hedonism leads to an lethal overdose, Richard’s therapeutic, you’re-a-winner-if-you-don’t-quit prospect of publishing crashes, Dwayne’s nihilsm and silence is broken by aviation school hopes dashed, Sheryl can’t keep the family afloat and has a melt down, Frank’s intellectualism and homosexual love is trounced by the second best Proust scholar, and Olive doesn’t win the Little Miss Sunshine pageant. Every philosophy fails.

At a turning point in the film, Frank calls upon his vast Proustian knowledge to cast light and hope onto Dwayne’s situation–“without the suffering years, the happy times mean nothing.” Suffering makes us better people if we embrace it. Is this the best we can hope for? That the loss of loved ones is really about us becoming better people? That our crushed hopes are really clandestine character builders? Character for what?! If life is just a mix of suffering and the mundane, making life shine a little more brightly I’m not too encouraged!

And what of Olive’s question? Where does Grandpa go when he dies? Is there a heaven? Does just believing in it qualify you for it? No doubt the film raises earthy and perennial questions in a moving and well-acted way. But what of the solutions, the saviors, the desires for happiness everyone is searching for? Are we to throw our hands in the air and just “count our blessings” or is there something more satisfying, more definitive, more lasting that will solve our crushed hopes and self-destroying addictions? Tell me, where can we find a little sunshine that will never stop shining?

Advertisements
5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 29, 2006 4:34 pm

    this sounds like a very familiar story. the story we all live in. desperately searching for meaning, for purpose, for me. we’re all on this journey of trying to find ourselves. we have broken hearts and are longing to be whole again. Jesus says we must love each other as we love ourselves. but in order for us to love our brothers or sisters we must know and love who we are. and in order for us to love me, well… we must love Jesus. Jesus slowly heals our brokenness and restores our hearts to wholeness. so may we pursue Jesus as he brings us closer to our true self.

  2. Jesus permalink
    March 29, 2007 1:29 pm

    1. aaron Says:
    December 29th, 2006 at 4:34 pm

    this sounds like a very familiar story. the story we all live in. desperately searching for meaning, for purpose, for me. we’re all on this journey of trying to find ourselves. we have broken hearts and are longing to be whole again. Jesus says we must love each other as we love ourselves. but in order for us to love our brothers or sisters we must know and love who we are. and in order for us to love me, well… we must love Jesus. Jesus slowly heals our brokenness and restores our hearts to wholeness. so may we pursue Jesus as he brings us closer to our true self.

    erm buddy, that was just a full circle of what you just said. and he doesnt slowly heal our brokeness and restores our hearts, our friends and family do. And is he a god or a human. if he is a human then isnt he dead? how can he heal our hearts? and if he he is a god, didnt they find their tombs?

  3. Natasha permalink
    April 11, 2007 2:44 pm

    God is the one who heals our broken hearts, but he sometimes uses our friends and families to do so. He uses other ways too such as scripture, prayer, or even music.
    God is God. He came down to Earth in the form of a human. And no, he is not dead. He died on the cross and was burried, but was later resurrected from the dead. So, yes there is a tomb, but no bones are in it. No one knows for certain where this tomb is.
    It is hard to believe that anyone can be raised from the dead I know, but then it is hard to believe anything we don’t have substantial evidence in. It’s just one of those cases where we have to have faith.
    I believe it whole-heartedly and don’t really need proof, but if you want proof I ecourage you to check out the Bible–the book of Matthew for starters. There are also over 500 historical accounts of eye witnesses who saw Jesus on Earth after he had died.

  4. May 16, 2008 2:33 pm

    thanks for your insight on this very funny and sad and deep movie. There is certainly a lot to think about regarding a study in character and personal story lines. Each different and interesting and also much like each one of us.
    I will try to use the movie when talking with my church youth group about how we respond when life hands us lemons…for some…it seems there whole life they have been handed lemons…And as one posted earlier…God is God and He is still there…

  5. May 16, 2008 6:49 pm

    i agree, there are powerful themes in the movie that can bridge into good spiritual conversations, though the movie isn’t well-suited for youth, there are strong elements that many youth would identify with. hope the talk goes well

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: