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Little Miss Sunshine Family Assessment

Family might bring love and joy, but it may also cause depression, betrayal, pain, and suffering. Family isn’t always created by genetics; rather, it’s based on a bond between people. A family can be made up of friends, colleagues, classmates, residents of a neighborhood or any other group of individuals.

The Pritchett-Dunne family, from the movie Little Miss Sunshine (2006), is an example of a family that is both dysfunctional and functional. The family is dysfunctional because they do not communicate well with each other, they have different values, they are not supportive of each other and they do not express their love for each other. The family is functional because they are able to stick together through thick and thin, they are able to laugh at themselves and they are there for each other when it counts.

The Pritchett-Dunne family is made up of seven members; Richard (Greg Kinnear), Sheryl (Toni Collette), Dwayne (Paul Dano), Olive (Abigail Breslin), Frank (Steve Carell), Grandpa (Alan Arkin) and Uncle Alan (Tom Hulce).

Richard is the patriarch of the family and the father of Olive. He is a motivational speaker who is struggling to sell his self-help program. He is also struggling with his own self-confidence and he has a difficult time communicating with his wife and daughter.

Sheryl is the matriarch of the family and the mother of Olive. She is a housewife who does not always have time for her husband or daughter. She is also struggling with her own self-confidence.

Dwayne is the eldest child of the family and the only son of Richard and Sheryl. He is a teenage boy who has taken a vow of silence. He communicates with his family through written notes.

Olive is the youngest child of the family and the only daughter of Richard and Sheryl. She is a seven-year-old girl who loves to dance. She is very naïve and she does not always understand what is going on around her.

Frank is the father of Dwayne and the grandfather of Olive. He is an alcoholic who has recently been kicked out of his retirement home for sexually harassing one of the female residents. He moves in with his son and daughter-in-law.

Grandpa is the father of Sheryl and the grandfather of Olive. He is a World War II veteran who is dying of cancer. He moves in with his daughter and son-in-law so that he can be closer to his family.

In the film Little Miss Sunshine, their dysfunctional family is loving, encouraging, and inspiring. The movie is filled with dark humor about a contemporary middle-class household on the verge of financial ruin who nevertheless find joy in life despite their difficulties. They are a family that is just trying to get by and stick together no matter what challenges they face.

The movie opens with the family driving to California in their VW bus to support Olive (Abigail Breslin) who has qualified for the “Little Miss Sunshine” beauty pageant. The family consists of Richard (Greg Kinnear), the father who is desperately trying to sell his motivational success program; Sheryl (Toni Collette), the mother who is trying to keep the family together; Dwayne (Paul Dano), the Nietzsche-reading teen who has taken a vow of silence; Frank (Steve Carell), Sheryl’s depressed Proust scholar brother who attempted suicide; and Olive, the seven-year-old beauty queen wannabe.

As the movie progresses, we see how each family member confronts their own demons and helps each other through their struggles. They are there for each other no matter what, which is a true testament to the strength of their family bond.

While the family may not be perfect, they are definitely loving and supportive of one another. This is evident in the way they handle Olive’s pageant dreams, as well as in the way they deal with Dwayne’s vow of silence. They may not always agree with each other, but they are always there for each other when it counts.

The bottom line is that the Little Miss Sunshine Family is a great example of a modern day family that is loving, supportive, and motivated. Even though they may not be perfect, they are still able to find the beauty in life and stick together no matter what challenges they face.

“It’s not about how much money you make; it’s about how much money you keep,” he says at the start of the film as Richard, his father, is giving a motivational speech about winning. “There are two kinds of people in this world: winners and losers.” Richard is a protagonist motivational speaker who is obsessed with winning. Throughout the movie, he jokes about his family for being imperfect, even though they are trying their best to support him.

His family consists of his wife Sheryl, their two daughters Olive and Dwayne, son-in-law Frank, and Olive’s grandfather Edwin. The movie mainly focuses on the younger daughter Olive’s, journey to winning the “Little Miss Sunshine” pageant in far away California.

The family dynamic is very broken, Richard belittles Sheryl for being overweight and not having a successful career. He also shames their elder daughter Dwayne for reading Nietzsche and not speaking, instead communicating through Post-It notes. Even though Richard loves his family, he has a difficult time showing it in a healthy way. His main love interest is himself and his need to win at all costs.

Olive is a seven-year-old with big dreams of becoming a beauty queen. When her mother Sheryl finds out about the “Little Miss Sunshine” pageant, they all pile into their VW bus to take Olive to California for the competition. Along the way, they face multiple challenges that threaten to derail their plans. But in the end, the family comes together and learns to accept each other’s quirks and imperfections.

Though the family starts off very dysfunctional, they grow to love and accept each other by the end of the movie. They learn that winning isn’t everything, and that what truly matters is being there for each other through thick and thin.

Sheryl is the optimistic mother, who is always offering words of encouragement even as Richard tries to bring his family down and she is all about honesty. Frank is Sheryl’s brother, who at first attempts suicide as a result of a shattered heart and a loss of status as America’s pre-eminent Proust Scholar. Dwayne is the son of Richard and Sheryl and wants to join the air force after school.

Uncle Alfred is the homosexual brother of Richard who has been kicked out of his retirement home for hosting naked men. Olive is the seven-year-old daughter of Richard and Sheryl who enters herself into a beauty pageant. Lastly, there is Richard himself who is an unsuccessful motivational speaker who wants to be a winner in life.

The family dynamic between these characters is unique because they are all very different from one another. Even though they may butt heads at times, they still remain a close-knit family that loves and supports each other no matter what. This was evident when they were all cheering Olive on during her pageant performance, even though she was not winning. Their love for each other shines through in the end, which makes them such a special family.

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