In Korea, family movies tend to be very bright or so sad that make audience to shed tears, conveying the importance of family forcefully. Also, it is usually released on holidays such as Chuseok to be a box office hit. In this regard, Little Miss Sunshine, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Ferris in 2006, may be unfamiliar because it is different from the typical family movie atmosphere of Korea. However, it shows that family movie can show a message about the role of the family naturally without tear-jerking or forceful happiness.
The six family members of Little Miss Sunshine, have their own stories. Main character, Olive(Abigail Breslin) is seven years old chubby girl, who is preparing the participation in the “Children's Beauty Contest”. Her grandfather, Edwin(Alan Arkin), is a drug addict who was kicked off from nursing house. Then Her father, Richard(Greg Kinnear) is poor lecturer who gives self-improvement lectures such as "The Seven Laws of Successful People", dividing everyone into winners and losers, and is sure that there is no point in trying something if it is not successful. His wife, Sheryl(Toni Collette), is struggling with money everyday. Lastly, Dwayne(Paul Dano), Olive’s brother is a 15 years old boy who had decided to not speak with his family until he enters aviation school and becomes a jet pilot.
The movie depicts the events that occur while all the family members ride together in an old van to a place where Miss Little Sunshine competition where Olive is supposed to participate is held. Families who are forced to travel together share large and small inconveniences. Those who have built walls in each other's lives, gradually begin to understand each other as they spend a long time in a narrow car. From the beginning of the trip, they encounter difficulty with their only means of transport - the yellow vans – was broken. They seemed to be annoyed by the unexpected situation, but when the family pushed the car from behind and everyone climbed in car one by one, they all smiled happily in trip first.
The scene of the movie showing hope to the audience is in magical moments when a person who suffers from failure can comfort another loser. The Olive family seemed indifferent to each other at first. However, in real, they sincerely comfort each other engaging like cogwheels in their own positions. The grandfather pats his family when Olive worried about beauty contest and Richard felt frustrated when his book publishing contract was failed. Also, Olive comforts his brother Dwayne just by putting her hand on his shoulder. Frank's cynical humor rather makes Dwayne bring out his innermost thoughts and laugh.
In particular, when Olive became a laughing stock on the stage of the Little Miss Sunshine competition, Richard, who is “result-oriented” man dances harder next to his daughter regardless of contest result, so that she can finish the dance without hurting her heart. In that scene, all of family members go up to the stage one by one and dance together. The scene shows the deep inside of the Olive’s family and gives a humorous impression to the audience. This scene is also meaningful in the sense of that it criticizes the deformed aspect of beauty contests for selecting the "prettiest child" by putting makeup and dressing on them like an adult.
In fact, settings of this movie such as six people traveling a distance of 1,000 kilometers in an old van together, or the scene Olive dancing a strip show taught by his grandfather at a beauty contest, are somewhat ridiculous and excessive. However, the long-distance movement in the narrow car was a great cinematic device that allowed families to get closer. Also, without the scene Olive and their families dancing together, the audience would not be able to relieve the frustration they felt at a scene of child beauty contest and feel the real meaning of family.
The Olive’s family complete their anxious trip to meaningful trip as realizing everyone's power gathered to move the car, and as they repeatedly held hands of each other one by one to get back into the car. Then, the trip, which purposed to win the Little Miss Sunshine contest reached the end presenting them something completely different with prize. That was the family bond they felt in the "process" of a trip, which is more valuable than winning a contest they initially saw as the "result" of the trip.
There is a famous phrase about our life, "Don’t forget preciousness by being fooled by Familiarity." People who watched this movie would remind this phrase and their attitude toward their family. It is not late. If there are family members who spending a hard time alone in your home, it would be good to get encouraged through this movie, Miss little Sunshine and give them a word of comfort or warm hug.