Considering Societal, Psychological and Geographical Borders in Dayton & Faris’s 2006 film Little Miss Sunshine
When considering borders and boundaries, our initial interpretation often responds with a recognition of the geographical borders which divide and organize our world. However, often overlooked are the psychological and societal borders experienced by individuals and the ways in which these kinds of boundaries define our lives. Borders and boundaries of all forms are encountered in the 2006 road movie Little Miss Sunshine, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. As Ann Brigham notes, “Road stories themselves are plotted around unsettling processes: the crossing of borders, the courting and conquering of distance, the reinvention of identity, and the access, negotiation, and disruption of spaces” (8). This essay will consider the complex borders navigated by the Hoover family as they journey from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Redondo Bay, California in search of the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. As a road narrative, the film covers extensive geographical distance, emblemized by the yellow VW campervan the Hoover family travels in. But the Hoovers are a family of misfits, all experiencing their own psychological barriers and suffering under the societal boundaries of social class hierarchy and patriarchy. Thus, as a film embedded in mobility, this essay will also consider the ways in which boundaries are transgressed as well as responding to the resilience exhibited by individuals when faced with challenging circumstances.