Overture Films‘ Sunshine Cleaning is a quirky dark comedy of a single mom, Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams), trying to improve her life. After her son, Oscar (Jason Spevack), is kicked out of school, Rose is determined to earn the money to send him to private school. To afford this expensive endeavour, she starts a crime scene clean-up business, with her sister Norah (Emily Blunt), named Sunshine Cleaning. Rose has aspirations of a better life for her son, but she just can’t quite get it together. Sunshine Cleaning had the makings to be a hit, but just fell short of greatness. This film has a great cast and crew; Christine Jeffs (Silvia) directs with producers, Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf (Little Miss Sunshine).
It is too easy to compare it to another movie I’ll give you a hint, ‘sunshine’ is also in the title. Because ”Sunshine Cleaning” and “Little Miss Sunshine” share the same producers, many of aspects are carried over: “Sunshine” in the title, Albuquerque, and Alan Arkin. Although, I should not nail the producers for making a similar movie–um Judd Apatow, anyone?–I still couldn’t help myself and think that the movie will be like Little Miss Sunshine 2. That said, I feel that Sunshine Cleaning seems to lack the “little-movie-that-could” essence and overall feel of its predecessor.
This movie has some memorable moments in it, namely, when the two sisters encounter their first crime scene. The success in this movie lies entirely upon Amy Adams. She played the character perfectly; she was sweet, vulnerable, and completely relatable. She is constantly trying to regain the confidence and self-esteem she once had when she was in high school, but just can’t seem to. She really is trying to make something out of herself, and she does once her new business begins to flourish.
Rose’s younger sister, Norah, is a troubled, immature, rebellious twenty-something year old who can’t seem to manage anything in her life. Honestly, Emily Blunt was incredibly annoying in this role; it was just didn’t quite work. She seemed to just slide along by pouting her lips and looking pretty… gorgeous actually.
Alan Arkin plays the scheming, crotchety grandfather, Joe. He is constantly thinking up get-rich-quick schemes that never seem to pan out. He tries to be there for his daughters and grandson, but he can’t seem to tame the crazy ideas in his head. His character is exactly the same as in Little Miss Sunshine, take it for what it is. He is funny and adds a charm to the movie.
The movie is riddled with underdeveloped and unnecessary, subplots. The relationship between Oscar and Joe just seems to go nowhere and their scenes between the two of them was simply filler. Which is a bit of a shame because that subplot could have added a lot to the movie and make the characters seem vital and useful. Emily Blunt’s character, Norah, befriends a quiet lesbian, Lynn (Mary Lynn Rajskub), after cleaning up Lynn’s mother’s house after she passed away. This plot could have actually added a key element to the movie, it felt like it was completely disassociated with the rest of the movie and led nowhere.
The movie concludes in an abrupt, yet fitting manner. Although there were some flaws within the movie, it was still completely enjoyable. Amy Adams does a stellar job, Alan Arkin is funny, and Emily Blunt looks pretty. It is not a Little Miss Sunshine, but it is still worth seeing.
Watch the trailer:
Sunshine Cleaning is rated R.
Limited Release on March 13.
For showtimes click here