The is one of the best movies I have seen in years.
It has been described as a movie about a dysfunctional family, but I disagree. On an important level, these people are us. Do all of us win all the time?
True, in a sense, everyone in the family is a "loser." They do not succeed in that quintessential "American" way. The father isn't great at his job, the mother complains because there isn't enough money, the son is colorblind, Olive isn't "pretty" in that beauty contest kind of way, the Uncle is gay, has lost a prestigious job, and is unhappy in love, and Grandpa snorts cocaine to numb his pain.
These do not sound like unusual problems to me, but together, they do make for a lot of really funny and poignant moments.
FYI: This is not a Hollywood Myth about the underdog winning the day. I say "Yay!" Aren't you tired of those?
I think the movie wants us to ask ourselves what the word "loser" means. Each person in LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE has failed in some important dream, but are we so enraptured with the American Myth of "success" that we would truly call this family dysfunctional? The Myth tells us that "anybody" can do "anything" as long as he or she believes hard enough. I think the movie is saying that the Myth is a dysfunctional myth.
The problem with these characters in the beginning is not that they have dreams, but that they are afraid to fail. Failure in America is a dirty word: if you can't succeed in America, then where? Must we creep around in perpetual sorrow if our dreams don't come true? Maybe we are dreaming the wrong dream, anyway. Isn't that what life is for, figuring those things out?
At the end of the movie, although each character has failed in a significant way, each is a winner in a deeper sense. And they certainly do not come across to me as "losers" or as a dysfunctional family. I think they finally are seeing some things clearly for the first time.
This is a movie filled with humor and humanity. It is a wonderful antidote to a myth that would make us all feel like "losers" when things don't go our way. I wish there were more movies like this.
And by the way, I don't laugh easily at movies. But I laughed so hard at the end of this movie that my glasses steamed up.