Archive for Movies Posts

published in Achieving Your Dreams, Dreams/Goals, Family, Inspiration, Movies by Maryanne | November 21, 2017 | 6 Comments

Supporting Each Other – Dance Lessons from Little Miss Sunshine


 Pageant Official Jenkins: [outraged at Olive’s talent act] What is your daughter doing?

Olive’s Dad: She’s kicking ass, that what she’s doing!

– Little Miss Sunshine

When I was working in Qualicum Bay the other week, I watched the movie, Little Miss Sunshine (2006), again. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s a hilarious film that captures the wacky and wonderful essence of family…in all it’s dysfunctional glory 😊

Little Olive has a dream: to take part in the Little Miss Sunshine Beauty Pageant.

But Olive doesn’t quite look like the stereotypical beauty pageant contestant. And, as we soon learn, Olive certainly doesn’t dance like the average beauty pageant contestant either. Her cocaine-sniffing grandpa choreographed her dance routine and it is…quite something. Unfortunately, Olive’s grandpa died (of a cocaine overdose) en route to the pageant (and is currently wrapped in a sheet in the back of the family VW bus), so Olive dedicates her grand finale performance to her grandpa…and proceeds to give it her all on stage.

But she nearly doesn’t – because at first, her team of supporters try to stop her. They want to protect her from getting ridiculed. By this point in the pageant, the rest of the family (Olive’s suicidal uncle, played by Steve Carrel; her angst-ridden teenage brother who hasn’t spoken in months, played by Paul Dano; and her personal-growth obsessed dad, played by Greg Kinnear) have realized that Olive does NOT fit in to the pageant scene and she’s going to make a fool of herself. So they want to talk her out of performing her dance number in the talent contest.

But Olive’s stressed-out yet supportive mom (played by Toni Collette) explains to them why they need to let Olive dance – even if she is laughed at.

“Olive wants to do this,” Mom explains. “She loves who she is. She loves to dance, and she’s worked really hard to prepare for this pageant, so we need to let her do this.”

And so, Olive performs her outrageously funny and completely inappropriate dance routine (to the song, “Super Freak,” by Rick James). Her family was right to be concerned: the pageant organizers and contestant’s families are shocked, then mortified and then outraged.

Yet little Olive dances on, determined to finish what she started.

So when the livid pageant organizer tries to get Olive’s dad to cut short her performance, there is a pivotal moment when Dad is just about to get Olive to stop dancing – but then has a change of heart and instead leaps onto the stage and dances WITH her! The other family members soon join in, much to the chagrin of the pageant organizers – but to the absolute delight of Olive. She is thrilled to be dancing with her family in the pageant of her dreams.

It’s a powerful moment because it speaks volumes about the importance of having a strong support network in our lives. Who’s got our back in life? Who is supporting our dreams and other endeavors – whether they are big, small or not quite the norm? Who in our lives will join us on stage, if need be, and make an idiot of themselves in support of something that means a lot to us?

Likewise, who in our lives might need us to jump on their stage every once in awhile?

What small but significant show of support might we be able to give to someone who could really use that extra bit of encouragement right about now?

I reckon everybody needs a small but committed team of supporters who will jump on the stage with us, when and if we need them to. Or even if they just stay on the sidelines, watching, that’s okay, too…as long as they cheer us on.

To view the 3-min clip of the hilarious dance scene from the film, here’s the link.

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here. As a thank you, you’ll receive a short but saucy e-book entitled, Dive into this Chicago Deep Dish – Ten Bite-Sized Steps for a Yummier Slice of Life


published in Change, Courage, Dreams/Goals, Freedom, Inspiration, Movies, Relationships, Travel by Maryanne | July 28, 2015 | 3 Comments


Searching for Shirley Valentine


Shirley Valentine by sea


“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

– T.S. Eliot 

In anticipation of our upcoming trip to Greece, my niece, Emily, and I have watched a few films that feature Greece or Greeks in them, such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding and My Life in Ruins (which is why we’re going to Delphi!).

I also just watched Shirley Valentine, the 1989 film that was based on a one-woman play. I’d seen the movie years ago but thoroughly enjoyed seeing it again.

Shirley Valentine is a bored Liverpool housewife who talks to the wall while making dinner for her grouchy, emotionally distant and getting-old-before-his-time husband. Their children have grown up and left home and the empty nest has left Shirley feeling depressed, lost and purposeless.

All she does is shop, cook and complain. She can’t even dream of making a change because she’s forgotten what her dreams even are.

Yet when her friend wins a trip to Greece, she shocks herself and tags along – but doesn’t tell her husband because she knows he will object. He’s just as bored, stuck and stale as she is.

In Greece, however, Shirley begins to come alive again. She has a brief love affair but that turns out to be more of a catalyst for change than a cure for loneliness. She quickly realizes the person she is looking for isn’t a lover; she’s looking for herself.

And when the time comes for her to return to England, she doesn’t go. Instead, she gets a job at the restaurant (owned by the man she had an affair with) and begins the process of becoming the person she used to be, before all the responsibilities of life – and the demands of other people – turned her into someone she doesn’t recognize nor like.

Shirley’s husband, on the other hand, is livid that a) she refuses to come home and b) she had an affair.

But over the phone, Shirley says to him: “I am having an affair with myself. I have fallen in love with life again and I am not coming home.”

And she doesn’t. Instead, her husband goes to Greece to see her. But when he gets there, he walks right by Shirley because he doesn’t even recognize the woman she has become. And then the two of them sit down and finally begin to talk…I mean, really communicate versus just exchanging not-so-pleasant pleasantries about the mundane details of their daily lives.

It’s an excellent film and although I watched it because of the Greece connection, the message I took from it has little to do with Greece and everything to do with finding one’s self – or creating a new one, if need be. For it doesn’t matter where that happens; what matters is that it does happen…before it’s too late and one settles for a life of resigned acceptance versus passionate purpose.

Then, next on my list of Greece-related movies to watch was Mamma Mia. If you haven’t seen it, it is pretty much just fun and silliness set to ABBA music. However, on the ‘searching for self’ theme, there was a strong scene where the sexy young guy tells his sweet young fiancé – who has invited all three of her possible fathers to their wedding – that she won’t find herself if she finally figures out who her father is…rather, she has to figure that out all on her own.

So our countdown to Greece is on (we leave Aug 4)! I’ve got my Mamma Mia Meryl Streep denim overalls packed and ready to go. Now I just need 3 of my old lovers to come out of the woodwork and track me down on a Greek Island 🙂

Related blogs by Maryanne:

The Drowning Scene – What The Hours Film Taught Me About Motherhood

Do You Love Your Life? A Review of Jennifer Barclay’s Book, Falling in Honey; How a Tiny Greek Island Stole My Heart

 Q&A With Falling in Honey Author, Jennifer Barclay

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive Maryanne’s weekly blog, please sign up here.

published in Courage, Inspiration, Movies, Self Esteem, Self Worth by Maryanne | June 15, 2015 | No Comment


“One reason many of us resist our current situation is that it fails to match our own expectations.”

– Martha Beck, O Magazine, July 2015

I SPY With My Little Eye…


A movie that knows what it is – a spy-spoof comedy – and yet offers viewers much more than that, should one be so inclined to delve beneath the surface a little.

I saw the film, SPY, starring Melissa McCarthy, the other night and it was hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud throughout the film.

Now to be honest, SPY isn’t the sort of film I would normally go see but because my local theatre was using it as a fundraiser for a Relay for Life team, off I went. Plus I’d seen the trailer and thought Melissa McCarthy looked like my kind of femme fatale 🙂

And she was.

McCarthy’s character, Susan Cooper, is a deskbound CIA agent. Susan is the behind-the-scenes voice in the ear for the real agents who get to be out in the field, doing all the cool spy work.

But when one of her agents (played by super sexy Jude Law) supposedly dies, she finds herself volunteering for a mission that involves working, at long last, as an undercover agent in the field – after a decade spent hiding out in the basement of the CIA headquarters, in front of a computer screen.

Susan is sweet, timid and a bit of a pushover. But we soon realize she wasn’t always that way. It’s just that 10 years in a support role has worn away her self confidence and now she’s absolutely terrified to try her hand at field work.

And yet, off she goes to Paris – in a decidedly uncool undercover disguise, loaded up with equally uncool (but in the end, useful) spy gadgets.

The scene where her cab driver takes her from the Paris airport to her hotel is classic because we get to watch Susan’s reaction as she looks out the window in excited anticipation to see which of the famous swanky hotels she gets to stay at.

But the cab goes right on past all the nice hotels and we can see her expectations get lower and lower, as the cab continues on through the less-desirable part of town – and then past that into the really seedy area…and there, of course, is where Susan Cooper’s hotel is.

Although not quite what she was hoping her spy accommodations would look like, she rises to the challenge.

Now the older I get, the more I realize that this is the way real life rolls most of the time: reality doesn’t often match our expectations. But the sooner we can let go of how we thought something was going to be – and accept how it actually is, the sooner we can get on with the business at hand…which may involve actually changing a few things.

Unfortunately, however, what we actually tend to do when our reality – be that our looks, career, marital status, spouse, kids, financial situation, etc – doesn’t match our expectations, we either resist it…or worse, we deny it.

I suspect Spy works so well as a comedy because Susan Cooper represents the vast majority of people. Susan started out with big dreams but somewhere along the way, she lost her mojo and began to settle for a pretty good life instead of a super-cool one, where she’s the heroine of her own story – not the supporting role in someone else’s.

But by muddling through multiple failures, flops and faux pas’, our meek and mild Susan somehow does find the courage to become the rough and tough and take-no-guff Agent Cooper…and because of this, she is indeed my kind of gal. In fact, she’s a pink gazelle 🙂

Related blog:

The Danger of Comfort – Lessons from the Cubicle

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive Maryanne’s weekly blog, please sign up here.