Sunshine Cleaning Review

Quirky American indie flicks look to awkward families in unusual situations for their inspiration, and this offering from the producers of Little Miss Sunshine is no exception. Rose (Adams) and Norah (Blunt) are two sisters looking to earn a fast buck to pay for the education of Rose’s son Oscar. They find themselves cleaning up crime scenes for a living while juggling their complicated love lives, raising a few smiles in the process of this light movie which falls way short of the Little Miss Sunshine’s greatness.

Single mum Rose and the going-nowhere Norah who still lives at home with their dad are the typical “life-in-need-of-changing” female leads. A former high school cheerleading captain who used to date the quarterback, Rose’s difficult position as a thirty-something trying to make ends meet is made harder by her closest friend Mac (Zhan) also cheating on his wife with her. She needs stability, while Norah needs something just to get her motivated and out the house away from loser boys. Following Mac’s suggestion to go into the cleaning business, there’s a lot of laughs as the sisters come to terms with bad smells, body parts, dodgy cleaning standards and a one-armed man who helps them on their road to doing a good job. Seeing the pair succeed away from their odd job is less interesting as they aren’t quirky enough to dedicate a comedy to.

A lot of the time Sunshine Cleaning feels like it should be the pilot to an American sitcom. Unlike Little Miss Sunshine, this family has quite basic issues and all-too-obvious solutions such as Rose shouldn’t be sleeping with Mac and Norah just needs to find something to make her feel wanted, that they need more time for fleshing out than is available here. More scenes of confrontation or tension in Sunshine Cleaning would have given this film an edge it so desperately needs, but instead it falls to Arkin to get the best scenes reprising a surely, wise-old-man-of-the-family role he played so well in Little Miss Sunshine as Rose and Norah’s father Joe. His scenes with Rose’s son Oscar (Spevack) make for amusing interludes as Joe sounds off about the ways of the world while Oscar innocently tries to make sense of what his limited understanding of life as a small boy. The pair work great together in their handful of scenes – it’s a shame there aren’t more.

It’s surprising Joe’s get-quick-rich schemes which are a failure compared to his daughters’ new business aren’t used as a pronounced element of jealousy between the two generations to heat things up, but that’s a problem throughout Sunshine Cleaning: writer Megan Holley should have been bolder with her characters and put them in more challenging situations to work in a 90-minute movie. Adams and Blunt make for natural conflicting sisters, they could have done a lot more with meatier material. What we have here is just a bit too simple to offer much new, though it’s entertaining enough for a light-hearted evening in.

Alternative review:
“Perhaps it is appropriate that a film about confused and mixed-up people is itself a confused and mixed-up creation.” 3/5 by Paul Gallagher Read more…


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