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Review: Sunshine Cleaning

Sunshine Cleaning
04.03.2009
7 10

Plot: In order to pay her son’s tuition, thirty-something single mom, Rose (Amy Adams), and her irresponsible, younger sister Norah (Emily Blunt), start a crime scene clean-up service, which they name- Sunshine Cleaning.

Review: In some ways, SUNSHINE CLEANING is similar to a film I reviewed last week- CROSSING OVER. While that film tried to be another CRASH, SUNSHINE CLEANING is quite obviously patterned after LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. Like that film, you get a couple of likeable down and out protagonists, a precocious eight year old, an RV, and even Alan Arkin- who plays pretty much the same character he did in LMS.

Like CROSSING OVER, SUNSHINE CLEANING has sat on the shelf for a while. It played at Sundance two years ago, and is only now getting released- but luckily, SUNSHINE CLEANING is a much, MUCH better film than CROSSING OVER. I’m actually pretty surprised that it took this long for someone to pick up the film, as it’s a very accessible little sleeper that could easily catch on if marketed properly.


What makes the film work so well is definitely the trio of performances from Adams, Blunt, & Arkin. Amy Adams has to be the most adorable, lovable actress working in film today, and I must admit that I was putty in her hands from the second she showed up on screen. The thing that makes Adams so effective is that she’s one of the few actresses that can radiate kindness (which she also did quite well in her Oscar-nominated turn in DOUBT)- which is perfectly demonstrated by a scene midway through the film where she comforts the widow of a suicide she’s been called to clean up. It’s also on display through her chemistry with each of her co-stars, from Blunt & Arkin, to young Jason Spevack, who plays her son.

While she takes a bit of a backseat to Adams, Blunt is also quite good, and watching her in this makes me all the more upset that she had to bow out of IRON MAN 2, as she's a truly talented young actress. What surprised me most about Blunt is that she seems to have a flair for physical comedy- as shown by a scene late in the film where she inadvertently sets fire to a house she’s trying to clean. Hopefully the rumors about her starring opposite Russell Brand in his Aldous Snow spin-off GET HIM TO THE GREEK are true, as she definitely has some serious comedic chops.


As usual, Alan Arkin in fantastic as Adams & Blunt’s wacky, con-artist father, even if it’s extremely derivative of his role in LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE- although the character isn’t quite as hard edged here (meaning he makes it to the last reel, and doesn’t have a drug problem). I should also mention Clifton Collins Jr., who does a nice job as Adams’s unlikely, one-armed love interest.

My only gripe with the film is that it’s a bit choppy, as seems to have suffered a little post-production tampering. This is especially evident through Eric Chritian Olsen’s role (or lack thereof). Despite receiving prominent billing in the opening credits, the FIRED UP star is only in the film in one brief long shot- so obviously his role is lying on the cutting room floor. Still, this may not be a bad thing, as the film, at a lean 91 minutes is long enough.

Overall, I had a great time with SUNSHINE CLEANING, although I seriously doubt it’ll win any Oscars like that other SUNSHINE film. It’s a fun little spring sleeper, and a nice bit of counter-programming considering all the low-rent horror flicks we’ve gotten over the last few months.

Grade: 7.5/10

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Source: JoBlo.com

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