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Interpersonal Communication: COM 2020 Film Critique
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Grading Criteria: Film Critique – 175 points each:
While many of us watch film to be entertained – a passive venture, this project requires that you become an actively
engaged viewer. Since film is viewed as one avenue of mass-mediated communication; we can look to movies as
alternative “texts;” texts that express a myriad of cultural attitudes, values and beliefs. These might be overt – clearly
expressed - or more nuanced – implicit messages. Using film, we can assess the ways in which cultural ideals and
expectations of others are expressed in and through interpersonal communication (communicative strategies between
people). A critical viewing can help us recognize the implications for how it is we understand and respond to what it
means to ‘be.’ [Consider: Women, men, youth, middle-age, elderly, race, etc. Remember that these are often layered in
culture, religion, and/or, class socioeconomic status, etc.]. Such an inquiry can assist our ability to probe concepts that
are clearly identified or otherwise - influenced, enhanced, shaped or disrupted. More subtly, this project will require a
willingness for you to critically assess and evaluate yourself and as you seek to understand the role/s of interpersonal
communication in our lives.
For this project, your task is to identify three concepts from our textbook that you find active and represented in the
film, Little Miss Sunshine. As you evaluate, consider elements of historical, socio-economic and political contexts as well
as geographic location that might also influence interpersonal communication in this context. Pay attention to how it is
that intellectual, emotional and relational attitudes are influenced in and through the messages that we receive.
Consider the diverse and many ways we receive information about what it means to ‘be’ in the world through
interpersonal communicative strategies.
Length of paper: 3 MIN – 5 pages MAX, double-spaced. (I will stop reading after five pages)
Means of assessment:
To complete this assignment your paper is required to include the following:
Introduction (10 points):
Briefly summarize the film. Identify the main theme/purpose/topic of the film. Seek to identify what
elements come together to help us consider or better understand a specific message. Provide basic
outline of film that will allow me (any reader) to follow your illustrations and analysis in the body of
the paper. (aprox. 300 words)
Body: Knowledge Comprehension Application (75 points):
Drawing on our textbook, identify three different concepts that you find evident in the film.
Describe these concepts in detail; use direct quotes and appropriately cite from your text for each
concept. Use specific scenes, (a) recurring behavior(s) or other modes of representation from the
film. Make clear and specific links between the details of the concepts you have identified – and
how it is they are portrayed in the film.
(Note: 75 points total = 25 points for each identified concept. Points will be deducted for lack of detail, clarity, or
citation in your examples).
Conclusion: Analysis Synthesis Evaluation (75 points):
How do you make sense of these connections? Identify and explain components of film that might
reveal underlying socio-cultural values. What do they tell you about the theories we have studied in
class? Has this film altered your perspective or understanding of the role/s of interpersonal
communication in general? Has the film provided a particular insight for you in your life specifically?
Has the film helped you consider the concepts from our texts in new ways? Be sure to justify your
interpretation by referring back to specific examples.
Quality (15 points): Overall quality of your written work -general clarity, grammar and evidence of proof-
reading. Additionally, to what depth have you engaged with (applied critical thinking skills) with both film
and text/s? (Have you considered the provocative? Possible implications? Alternative perspective?)
Important NOTE 1: Throughout the semester you have received feedback on appropriate strategies for academic
writing and for this reason I will not offer partial points for inappropriate citation, poor grammar, or lack of
engagement with material. Some particulars to keep in mind include: Do not to use the word ‘you’ unless you are
referring to me (your reader) specifically. Be sure to use full sentences. Read your work- OUT LOUD to your self as
you write/draft and before final submission.
Important NOTE 2: Finally, be advised that I am aware of reviews of the film and that plagiarism of other’s ideas
and words will result in failure of the assignment and perhaps the class.