Sunday, April 4, 2010

Little Miss Sunshine

Although I had watched Little Miss Sunshine more than a year back, I recently ripped apart the packing of its DVD that was lying in my DVD cabinet for months. There's no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon at home. Dysfunctional families have been immortalized in Hollywood, both on the big as well as the small screen in movies and series like Six Feet Under, Brothers & Sisters and so on. Perhaps also Home Alone?

In Little Miss Sunshine (LMS), you got a failed motivational speaker who motivates half empty classrooms but can do little to help his own flagging career. His family resents those little winner-loser speeches that he vomits on the dinner table and cringes when he is about to start to rattle them off. You got his dad, the coke-snorting potty mouth whose vocabulary starts and end with the four-letter word. The son is mute because he's taken a vow to remain silent till he is allowed by his parents to become an air-force pilot. The wife' brother is fresh out of the hospital after being jilted by his lover. While the wife struggles to hold this dysfunctional lot together and maintain some sanity, the family's youngest member, Olive-literally the heart that beats- is this wonderful flower (Abigail Breslin's finest performance that I can remember) who aspires to become a beauty queen starting by winning 'Little Miss Sunshine', a beauty contest in California. You put all of them in a VW mini-van and you get one of the most hilarious- yet touching- movies you'll ever see.

That's the thing about dysfunctional families. Atleast the Hollywood types. They bicker, they crib, they fight, they squabble. They talk nonsense, they argue, they shout, they yell. Yet, when it matters the most, they come together like a flock to face every challenge life throws at them. They seem divided on all matters under the sun, but faced with a life-altering adversity- or so it seems- they throw their differences out of the window and unite. They are different from one another like chalk and cheese, but when it matters the most, get so glued to one another, that you can't tell one from the other.

Moments like these are unforgettable in LMS. The grandpa has a potty mouth and can't see eye-to-eye with anyone. But when his son suffers his career's biggest setback, he just offers a pat on his son's back and says he did his best and he is proud of him. At the beauty pageant, when Olive gets underway with her hilarious dance sequence that shocks the judges and audience, her entire family stands up and joins her in the act. Even though her act is bizarre and causes many people to walk out, she can only see her goal in front of her because her family does everything possible to shield her. That's what dysfunctional families do. That is why they are called families. At that point in time, it ceases to matter whether they are functional or dysfunctional.

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