Sundance Movie Review: Sunshine Cleaning

From the producers of Little Miss Sunshine comes a dark dramedy starring Amy Adams (Enchanted, Junebug), Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada), and Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine). Rose's son is expelled from school after licking his teacher's leg, and in order to raise the tuition for private school, the high school cheerleader turned 30-something-year-old maid (Adams) stumbles upon the idea of starting up a lucrative Crime Scene Clean-up business with her screw-up sister Norah (Blunt), who is still living in her father's (Arkin) house. Joe, a fancy corn salesman, always has a new scheme to make a couple bucks, must now babysit Rose's son. The morbid job allows the sisters to confront issues with their Mother's death.

Using the new indie dramedy formula introduced in Little Miss and Juno, Sunshine Cleaning takes on a darker tone, which allows the film to function more as a drama than a comedy. This may be a turn off to some portion of mainstream audiences, but I think the dramatic sequences easily stand on their own. Every moment Alan Arkin is on screen is pure hilarity, however Amy Adams and Emily Blunt turn in lower than average performances. Not to say they are bad, they just aren't up to the level of some of their previous work (Junebug, Devil Wears). Blunt explores a romantic relationship with the daughter of one of their their crime scene victims. Mary Lynn Rajskub of 24 fame is the second name from the Little Miss cast to appear in Cleaning. I respect the subtlety used in the Rajskub/Blunt relationship. Rajskub is fantastically awkward, as always.

The concept of crime scene cleaning is a fascinating look at a job that you would never even think to realize that exists. Sunshine Cleaning could have explored this aspect more but it isn't that type of film. As the credits roll, you begin to realize that Sunshine Cleaning is as much about family as Little Miss.

/Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10