What are the key themes of LMS?
Winners & Losers. Family Unity. Social Acceptance.
What does the opening sequence reveal about the characters?
Their detachment from each other and the fact that they are all striving for their individual success.
What do the hoover family represent in society?
True normality rather than the picture perfect poster families that are deemed normal.
Who directed LMS?
Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.
What is the significance of Dwayne and Frank wearing white in the opening sequence?
It contrasts to the rest of the family's patterned clothes.
Why is Dwayne's room monochromatic?
It shows his detachment from others, he is colour blind so his life lacks colour.
Why is Olive in bright colours?
She is different to the rest of the family, she represents hope.
What do the cups that Sheryl hands out at dinner in the opening sequence represent?
They are mismatched colours to represent the chaos of the family. Mis-matched people.
What do the dull greys in the hospital in the opening sequence represent?
What does the dull lighting in the Hoover's house represent?
Their failure and hopelessness.
What does Grandpas patterned clothing represent?
His disorderly personality. The patterns are chaotic like him.
What is significant about how Dwayne and Frank act at the dinner table in the opening sequence?
They are detached from the family, unaffected by the arguments going on.
What does the meal represent in the opening sequence?
It is unprepared, the disposable sharing bucket of chicken and the paper plates show how disorganised the family are.
What is significant about Richards suit in the opening sequence?
It portrays him being successful but he isn't actually.
What does the photo frame in the hallway represent in the opening sequence?
Them pretending to be a normal family when they aren't, by society's standards.
How is Frank patronised in the opening sequence?
He is given a child's glass as he is not allowed glass and the bed he is given is referred to as a cot. When Dwayne goes to tell him that dinner is ready a high angle shot is used as if Dwayne is looking down on him.
What does the desert represent in the opening sequence?
It is basic, nobody sits down to eat it, it is violently dumped on the table. They do not make an effort with each other.
Why is Dwayne's notebook always with him?
He is determined to succeed, if he didn't have it with him he would have to talk.
How is Dwayne's poor relationship with his step-dad shown?/
He is unaffected by the inspirational speech Richard gives him.
What is the significance of the music at the start of the film?
It is upbeat and has a steady rhythm which is a contrast to what we are about to see when we meet the hoover family.
How does the music change when Grandpa is taking heroine?
The notes are higher which shows his relaxation, he is calmer than the others.
What is the effect of the music when Dwayne is asked to come to California?
The pace increases and the background noise is quiet which creates suspense when waiting for his answer.
What is the effect of the diegetic sound when Sheryl goes to the hospital?
Her footsteps are the only thing you hear, this symbolises the emptiness that Frank feels. It also highlights her presence to save him.
What is the effect of Grandpa blowing his nose during dinner at the beginning of the film?
It shows disrespect as it is during Franks talk about suicide. He is dismissive of Franks problems.
What is the effect of Sheryl saying "I have to insist" to Frank.
The sympathetic tone shows that she is trying to please everyone.
"I hate everyone" - Dwayne.
He underlines 'everyone' which reflects his detachment from his family and the world. He is cynical and emotionless.
"What happened to your arms?" - Olive
Shock, sympathy. she is naïve about what happened.
"I gotta go!"
Passionate, he wants to support Olive. He is determined to see her achieve her dreams.
What is the effect of Richard constantly referring to the 9 steps?
Shows that he wants people to use them, this is a contradiction as he doesn't use them himself.
"They do that horse stuff every weekend!"
Shows that he dismisses other families success and happiness because he is too focused on his own.
"The insurance" - Sheryl to doctor when he says they want to keep Frank in hospital.
Shows that they are lacking funds as a family and can't afford to give him the care he needs in hospital.
What is the effect of the close up of Frank on his own in the opening sequence?
It highlights his loneliness and detachment form the world.
What is the effect of the unsteadiness of the camera in the car and when Sheryl and Richard are arguing in the opening sequence?
Symbolises the instability of their circumstances.
What is the effect of the camera moving rapidly around the room from character to character in the opening sequence?
It is shaking and moves quickly, this highlights the erratic, chaotic nature of the family. Things are quick paced and hurried to show the stress in the family.
What does the close up of Dwayne violently writing in his notepad show in the opening sequence?
His frustration and resentment at having to go to California, he is only going for Olive's sake.
What does the close up of Olives face as Richard asks her if she can win show?
She hesitates for a moment showing that she doesn't want to disappoint her success driven father, it also shows that she is determined to achieve her dream.
What do the close ups of Olives face when talking about Franks suicide show?
He innocence and naivety, she doesn't understand why anyone would do that. She thinks only about the positive things and is naïve about the negative.
What does people leaving the pageant during the closing sequence show?
That they are shocked and disgusted and cannot accept that Olive does not conform to what is deemed as normal.
How does Frank feel during the closing sequence?
He is clearly proud of Olive as she is not like the other false girls on stage.
Why does some of the crowd seem unaffected by Olives dancing in the closing sequence?
They are used to seeing over-sexualised young girls, it is normal.
What is ironic about parents shielding their children's eyes when Olive is dancing?
A few minutes before they were cheering on young girls dancing in bikinis but as Olive is not like them they believe it is wrong.
What are directors satirising in Little Miss Sunshine?
Beauty pageants and what society accepts as normal.
How does Olive contrast to the other girls?
She does not wear make-up, she is a real-life person where as the other girls are fake. The other girls are deemed beautiful by society's standards, for their looks, but Olives personality and innocence is what makes her beautiful. Olives oversized glasses and headband are a contrast to what the other girls are wearing.
How does Olive in the closing sequence link to else where in the film?
When she is standing in front of the TV in the opening sequence, fixated on miss america with the reflection in her glasses. Despite being the youngest she ends up being the one to teach her family a lesson about winning and losing.
How does the pageant judge react to Olive?
Although she doesn't deem Olive suitable for the pageant she remains calm as she doesn't want her pageant to seem out of control.
How does Miss California react to Olive?
She remains smiling, either she does not realise whats going on or she is so fake she keeps a smile on her face despite everything.
How does Richard change in the final sequence?
He no longer cares about Olive winning, he only cares that she is happy. He stops caring about what people think about him and gets up and dances with Olive. This contrasts to his earlier views. He now sees that his family are successful in their own unique way.
What is the effect of the high-key lighting used in the closing sequence?
It contrasts with the low-key lighting used in the opening sequence. It reflects the new positive outlook of the family.
What is the effect of Richard staring directly at the pageant organiser?
He realises the ridiculousness of the situation. It shows that he doesn't care anymore about embarrassing himself in front of everyone.
What is the effect of the shots of Charisma Whiteman?
She directly contrasts to Olive, her name has a sense of allure and class which contrasts to Olive Hoover. She has painted on beauty which contrasts to Olives who is natural. Charisma represents the misconception of what people are like.
What is the impact of the pageant presenter?
He is tanned and made up to fit in with the pageant setting. He is creepy and sickening, adding to the discomfort created by the pageant.
What is the effect of the family standing up during Olive's performance?
They are standing up for her, they realise that it is more important that she is content in life than what people think of her.
How does the closing sequence link to the 9 step programme?
Olive doesn't use it but she has still won in her own way, Richard is proud of her all the same. This links to Richard saying that she should only enter if she knows she can win.
How is the closing sequence a turning point for Richard?
He is proud of Olive for who she is, not what people think of her.
What is the effect of the shot of the presenter talking to Olive?
Her answer to the presenters question - that her grandpa is in the boot of the car - cannot be answered by the usual scripted response showing that Olive is realer than the other girls as she gives honest unscripted answers. She contrasts to the other girls as she isn't wearing skimpy clothing. The presenters position, hovering over Olive, is threatening, he is threatening to the honesty and naïvety of her character. Olive is behaving like a girl of her age unlike the other girls.
What is shown by the family dancing?
They are united for the first time. They no longer care about what society thinks of them. It contrasts with the beginning of the film where the family were distant.
What is the effect of the camera being behind the family when they are dancing?
We are on the families side, in opposition with the audience and the judges. It shows the contrast between the families happiness and the judgemental, condemning crowd.
What do the families facial expressions show when they are in trouble?
They are blank showing that they show no remorse as they dont see what they've done as wrong. The family is presented as though they were in trouble at school which highlights how patronising the contest is. The family is once again united which links to the beginning of the film where they were detached from each other.
What is significant about the families order when getting in trouble?
They are in the same order as they were around the dinner table in the opening sequence which highlights the change they have undergone.
When Dwayne finds out that he is colour blind, what is the effect of the non-diagetic music?
It gets louder the angrier he gets, it mirrors his emotions.
What is the effect of Dwayne remaining silent but everyone else shouting when he finds out he is colourblind?
Dwayne is the only one with a reason to shout, it shows that he is determined to stick to his goal even though there is no point, his family are more chaotic than him in reality.
What is the effect of character positioning when Dwayne finds out that he's colour blind?
He sees himself as trapped in the van aswell as trapped with his family as he can no longer escape by becoming a pilot.
Why doesn't Richard want to stop the van when Dwayne has his breakdown?
He is too focused on getting there on time and reaching his own goals. His reluctance to stop is ironic as he is driven by goals and success and his sons goals have been shattered.
What is the effect of Frank's blank expression during Dwaynes melt down?
He is familiar with failure and distress so it doesn't faze him.
What does the close up of Olive during Dwayne's breakdown reveal?
Her concern and sympathy for him. She doesn't fully understand what is going on which reflects her innocence.
What is the effect of Olive's bright clothes when Dwayne finds out that he's colourblind?
It is as if the universe is rubbing it in, they are in the forefront of the shot as the bright colours contrast to the tragic situation.
What is the non-diegetic sound like during Dwayne's breakdown?
It is quick-paced and gets louder and louder to mimic Dwayne's hysterics.
What is shown through the character positioning during Dwayne's breakdown?
Richard originally thinks the noise is from outside the van, he is more concerned with everything else than his family, thinks the van is breaking down rather than his family. Olive turns round first showing that they have the strongest bond and that she cares most.
What is the effect of the camera shot when Dwayne finds out that he is colourblind?
The camera shows the whole family with Dwayne at the back, excluded. As Dwayne is detached emotionally he also detaches himself physically.
When Dwayne runs out of the van and down the hill during his breakdown, what does the shot symbolise?
The sky is empty, like Dwayne now that his dreams are over. This also symbolises how Dwayne wanted to be a pilot in the sky but instead is stuck on the ground. His family are far away in the background, he remains distant from them. The vast open space contrasts to the claustrophobic setting of the van.
What is the effect of Dwayne appearing bigger in the shot when yelling at Sheryl?
It reinforces the words he is saying, he is belittling the rest of his family so the camera shows him as the bigger person.
What is the effect of Olive being the one to succeed in comforting Dwayne?
She is the only one that didn't recieve any verbal abuse from Dwayne, she cannot be attacked as she is pure. She hasn't yet met the failure that
What is the effect of the low angle shot when Dwayne and Olive go back up the hill to the van?
It is used to make him feel smaller as he apologises.
What is the effect of the character positioning when Dwayne and Olive go back up the hill to the van?
Richard is distant fro the rest of the family, more concerned with the time than Dwayne. He no longer cares about Dwayne as he has failed but Olive still has a chance to win.