Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted on MSA’s literary arts blog, curated by junior and senior literary arts students.
In April of 2020, I receive it as a birthday gift on DVD. It was around the time that the idea of a prolonged quarantine was just setting in. I put the DVD into my computer and watched it for the first time on April 14th, 2020. And I do not think I can put into words how much I adore this movie! Like the title of this blog says, it made me feel EVERY EMOTION. So this week, I would love to tell you about one of my all-time favorite movies “Little Miss Sunshine”.
**content warning: mentions of drug use and attempted suicide**
The Hoover family — consisting of a father, a mother, a daughter, a son, the mother’s brother, and the father’s father– pile into a bright yellow van and head to California to watch the daughter compete in the Little Miss Sunshine Contest.
It is by far the best road trip movie I have ever seen. While on the way to California, the family faces many issues, such as their bus breaking down and other things I can’t tell you because of spoilers. I think the movie does a great job of balancing its time between all six main characters, giving each of them their own issues to deal with and time to work through them.
I really do believe that each character has the potential to be someone’s favorite character. They’re each so different and are given their own set of problems to work through throughout the film. I can almost guarantee you that you’ll find at least one of them relatable, if not all of them.
Sheryl Hoover: The Mother
Sheryl (played by Toni Collette) is an overworked mother who just wants the best for her family. With her husband being focused on his job, she is left to take care of their two children, her brother, and her father-in-law.
Richard Hoover: The Father
Richard (played by Greg Kinnear) is trying desperately to build a career as a motivational speaker and life coach. This goal often comes before this family’s needs.
Frank Ginsberg: The Uncle
Frank (played by Steve Carrell), after an attempt at suicide, has been sent to stay with his sister and her family.
Edwin Hoover: The Grandfather
After getting evicted from a retirement home for snorting heroin, Edwin has been sent to live with his son’s family.
Dwayne Hoover: The Son
Dwayne is Sheryl’s son from a previous marriage. He has taken a vow of silence until he can accomplish his dream of becoming a fighter pilot.
Olive Hoover: The Daughter
Olive aspires to be a beauty queen and earns a spot to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant.
FAMILY AND LOVE
I don’t know about you, but I love a good story about love.
I can’t say too much without spoiling the whole movie, but almost every character starts the movie feeling alone. Richard is struggling with his career, Sheryl is struggling to keep her family together, Frank has lost his job and was rejected by the man he loved, and Dwayne feels like no one understands him (Olive is pretty much just there to give the family a common goal and to be cute. The grandpa is just funny and snorts coke).
By the end of the film, the sense of unity between the family is incredibly heartwarming. You know that this experience has brought them closer together and that they know they have each other’s backs.
And this all comes through in the movie’s amazing climax! It is honestly the funniest and best thing I have ever seen, and I know that’s saying a lot! But it’s true! And I can’t tell you any more without spoiling it, but just know that it will be one of the most satisfying movie endings that you will ever witness.
ALL THE FEELINGS
I just spent the last section talking about how satisfying the film’s ending is, but happiness is far from the only emotion you will feel watching this.
At several points in the movie, I cried. The performances are amazing and the characters are so well written that you can’t help but fall in love with them. So when anything bad happens to them (which is often), you can’t help but feel for them. You just want them to reach their goal and it is such a fun, emotional ride there.
This is definitely one of those stories where the journey matters more than the destination.
IT’S SO PRETTY
Once again, I will be providing you with several stills for the movie to enjoy. This film in particular has a very muted, yellowish palette, which I enjoy a lot.
IN CONCLUSION, YOU SHOULD WATCH IT
I hope that some part of this blog made you want to give this film a chance. It is available to stream on Starz and to rent/buy on YouTube and Amazon! I understand that the sometimes dark humor of this film may not be everyone’s thing, but I am certain that everyone who watches it will get something out of it!