Movie Review: Sunshine Cleaning - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Movie Review: Sunshine Cleaning

Scene from "Sunshine Cleaning" Scene from "Sunshine Cleaning"

Marketed as from the makers of Little Miss Sunshine, this movie even features one of the same actors. Academy Award-winner Alan Arkin plays a similar role here as he did then. Unfortunately, this movie has none of the same comedic drive. For a film about two sisters who start a business that cleans up messy and bloody crime scenes, this thing is D.O.A.

Amy Adams (Doubt and Enchanted) stars as Rose. Rose works as a maid whose employer sends her to homes and organizations to handle various cleaning duties. This is obviously not the job she wants. It's never stated, but the context is Rose had high hopes of becoming a businesswoman, possibly working in real estate, but Rose has a 8-year-old son. Her pregnancy and the fact that the biological father is never mentioned probably derailed her career plans.

Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada and The Jane Austen Book Club) co-stars as Nora, the younger sister who works as a waitress. Nora has a chip on her shoulder about something. We never really get any insight about what, but, because of unstated circumstances, she's frustrated about her career path or rather lack thereof.

It's tolerable having such little information or back story because these two actresses are phenomenal. They can give you so much with hardly any exposition. If this movie succeeds, it's solely because of Adams and Blunt's efforts. If this movie doesn't, it's got to be due to its deficiencies in giving us enough depth.

I suppose it was an issue I had with the script. It's an issue that I could have forgotten if it weren't for the fact that this movie just had no real, laugh-out-loud comedy in it, not like Little Miss Sunshine. There was the fact that you had these two women going into crime scenes ill prepared and not expecting to find what they find. There's also the irony that they get happy to hear about messy suicides or car accidents, but, beyond that, this movie is devoid of much humor.

What's most troubling is that a lot of it doesn't go anywhere. Too much of it hits dead ends. For example, Rose sparks up a relationship with a one-armed man, played by Clifton Collins, Jr. (One Eight Seven and Capote) who's probably the most interesting character in the film. Knowledge about who he is or how he came to be, or where the relationship with him will go, is abandoned.

Nora sparks up a relationship with a lesbian, connected to one of her cleaning jobs. The relationship comes to a head and is never revisited. It has a climax with no denouement. Yes, it's a minor plot thread with no real consequence, but it could have added so much if they would have done more with it beyond casting it aside.

The only thing that kept me interested was seeing how Rose's affair with a married cop named Mac was going to go. Steve Zahn (Rescue Dawn and Joy Ride) plays Mac. Zahn does a good job of portraying an adorable cheater, but I was more curious about his circumstances. He could even have been the biological father to Rose's son. That question is never explored. The dynamics as well as his history with Rose provided a good dramatic floor, but the filmmakers didn't dare enough to really dance on it.

Two Stars out of Five
Rated for language, disturbing images, some sexuality and drug use
Running Time: 1 hr. and 31 mins.

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