Reel Review: ‘Sunshine Cleaning’ a tidy little movie

At first, it might seem like “Sunshine Cleaning” is attempting to re-create the magic (and success) of independent blockbuster “Little Miss Sunshine.” It’s understandable since this latest release hits many of the same notes: a dysfunctional family of likable losers, an oddball storyline and the always funny pairing of a quirky kid with Alan Arkin.

Despite these similarities, “Sunshine Cleaning” has every right to proudly stand on its own.
The years since she was the beautiful high school cheerleader dating the football captain have been hard on Rose (Amy Adams), a single mom working for a maid service and barely hanging on with sub-standard help from her loser sister Norah (Emily Blunt) and her head-in-the-clouds dad (Alan Arkin).

Her ongoing affair with now-married high school boyfriend Mac (indie staple Steve Zahn) is yet another dead-end.

But when her son is kicked out of elementary school for his ongoing behavior problems (which seem to quietly disappear for the remainder of the film), Rose is desperate to find the tuition for a better school. Mac, a police detective, suggests crime-scene clean up as lucrative line of work. Rose enlists her sister and off they go, cleaning up the often-stinking remnants of the dead.

With the economy in collapse, this tale of a down-on-their luck family barely hanging on feels timelier than it was probably intended to be. The film takes us around the seedy sides of Albuquerque, usually in a clunker of a car. But even with the consistently bleak visual treatment, there is a warmth to these to people, to this story, that keeps you feeling hopeful – for them and for the times we find ourselves living in.

Adams and Blunt both deliver terrific performances, though at first it is a bit of a struggle to accept the perky-faced Adams, so perfectly cast as a princess in “Enchanted,” in such a downer role.

Director Christine Jeffs and screenwriter Megan Holley are patient in their storytelling, quietly unwrapping a family and all of its unspoken pains and lovable oddities, and managing to tell a good story along the way.

‘Sunshine Cleaning’
- Rated: R
- Grade: A
- Now Playing

Related posts:

  1. Reel Review: ‘The Uninvited’ should’ve been titled ‘The Undecided’
  2. Reel Review: ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ a good time overall
  3. Reel Review: Meandering ‘Watchmen’ a likely fan pleaser
  4. Reel Review: ‘Fired Up’ takes teen comedy to a bad place
  5. Reel Review: Stereotypical ‘International’ fails to impress

Short URL:

Posted by on Mar 19, 2009. Filed under Archives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply



Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6





  • RSF Association Board Biz: It’s fire season: Be prepared
    The Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District (RSFFPD) was officially formed in 1946, in the aftermath of a devastating fire that took place in 1943 and destroyed brush, farmland and homes from Rancho Bernardo through Rancho Santa Fe, all the way to Solana Beach and Del Mar. Today the Fire District spans 38 square miles and protects nearly 30,000 residents. W […]
  • Rancho Santa Fe couple lead way in helping those with thyroid disorders
    Few people may know that Graves’ disease is one of the most common autoimmune diseases afflicting Americans today. Fewer still may know that the only national non-profit dedicated to its patients is headquartered in Rancho Santa Fe. The Graves’ Disease and Thyroid Foundation, co-chaired by Rancho Santa Fe residents Kathleen Bell Flynn and Steve Flynn, has be […]
  • Candidates seek election to three Rancho Santa Fe special district boards
    Seats on the boards of directors of three special districts that provide such services as water, fire protection, sewage treatment and landscape maintenance are on the ballot in the Nov. 4 election. The three special districts are the Santa Fe Irrigation District, the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District and the Rancho Santa Fe Community Services Distric […]