The Beacon’s Marissa Barkey recently caught “Sunshine Cleaning“, a some-what dramatic comedy staring Academy Award nominee Amy Adams, Golden Globe winner Emily Blunt, Academy Award winner Alan Arkin and Steve Zahn. Adams plays a single mother who enters a crime scene cleaning business along with her dysfunctional sister, played by Blunt, all so that she could afford a private school for her young son. Comments? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The film takes place in Albuquerque, there’s a beat-up old van, a lot of family dysfunction, an adorable kid, and a get-rich-quick scheme that doesn’t quite work out. Alan Arkin is the Grandpa. The title? No, this is not 2006’s “Little Miss Sunshine” although there are striking similarities; perhaps having to do with the fact that Christine Jeffs directed both. Sunshine Cleaning is a dry-humored and somewhat awkward story of good hearted people facing issues in order to work towards a more functional life.
However, for all the raw talent, the leading actors can do little but squirm beneath the true depth of the material. The script was a little messy, the characters a little inconsistent, the motivations were unclear, and for some reason I had a feeling there were scenes missing. From a one-armed janitorial supply salesman to a goofy grandpa character played by Alan Arkin, Sunshine Cleaning goes after the Little Miss Sunshine legacy by making the gritty seem charming, and the morose seem perky.
The film has a little of everything, from a sob story to a comic reaction to a frantic situation that ends up be a blessing in disguise. If you must see it, wait to rent it.
Stars: 3 out of 5.
Sappy Factor: 0
Predictability Level: High
Tissue Usage: I welled up a few times
Visual Art: The details in the crime scene clean-ups were excellent.
Squirm Scale: 6. If blood and gore bothers you, you may be a 9.
Oscar Worthy: No
Theater Audience: About 30 popcorn munching viewers, nobody left until the movie ended.
Blatant Product Placement: Coke
Quirkiness: 6 out of 10