Archive for April, 2009

06 Apr 2009

Sunshine Cleaning

No Comments Reviews


Amy Adams and Emily Blunt costar in

In a year that is full of stereotypical genre films, its not surprising to find that the year’s first highly promoted independent film is as well. That’s not entirely a bad thing though when your stereotype is a crowd-pleasing character piece that is great change of pace from, lets say, big muscle men driving fast muscle cars.

“Sunshine Cleaning” centers around the lives of two sisters, Rose (Amy Adams, “Doubt”) and Norah (Emily Blunt, “Charlie Wilson’s War”). Rose is a struggling single mother, who works as a maid during the day and screws her married former high school lover at night. Norah is a jobless, moody young adult, who has yet to move out of her parent’s house.

While neither is content with their situation, things start to look up when they learn of the lucrative business of cleaning up crime scenes. With the help and advice of their entrepreneur father (Alan Arkin, “Get Smart”), the two try to find their true calling in cleaning up after the deceased.

With the return of the “Sunshine” title comes the return of an offbeat family tale of despair and redemption. Like “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Sunshine Cleaning” is based around struggling parents, an amusing idea to change the family’s circumstances and an animated grandfather played by Arkin. Besides adding a few puddles of blood, and a less vulgar and porn-addicted Arkin, “Cleaning” might as well have been “Little Miss Sunshine’s” cousin’s story.

The movie meanders through its hour and a half runtime with quirky situations involving reactions to gore-covered household items and a kid who thinks he has OCD. While the dark comedy often works in the film’s favor, it’s the earnest depiction of two opposite sisters clashing that saves the film from mediocrity.

Over the past few years Adams has really shown her talent through her quirky and confused role as a rich girl imposter in “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” and her Oscar worthy turn as the charming-yet-ignorant Disney princess in “Enchanted.” In this film, Adams creates a down-to-earth character that anyone can relate to. Through her struggles in finding a normal relationship to trying to manage her rebellious young sister, she creates an endearing character.

As the “stuck in junior high” younger sibling, Blunt offsets Adam’s responsible character perfectly. Even with an edgy Paris Hilton-esque attitude and “dude”-oriented dialogue, it is Blunt’s characterization of a daughter still struggling with the loss of her mother that leaves a lasting impression among audiences.

Hardly Oscar-worthy and hardly memorable, “Sunshine Cleaning” is a cute and simple film that should leave all its viewers with a smile on their face.

‘Sunshine Cleaning’
Release Date: March 13
Director: Christine Jeffs
Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt and Alan Arkin
Genre: Comedy, crime
Rating: R for language, disturbing images, some sexuality and drug use.
Grade: B

Jay Brissenden can be reached at