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Apr 28, 2009

Fletch's Mini Film Review: Sunshine Cleaning

I don't know if I would trust anyone that praised or panned Sunshine Cleaning - there just isn't that much to love or hate. It's a well-executed, well-acted film that deals with BIG issues (suicide, adultery, the working poor) but feels like it wades in the kiddie pool trying to stay as, well, sunny as possible rather than get too deep. No catharsis or obstacle lingers long enough to seem a real problem, as the inevitable happy (happier) ending looms.

Amy Adams and Emily Blunt star as a pair of sisters. The older Adams looks after her younger sibling, the younger sibling helps looks after the older's child, and they both look out for their zany-idea-ridden Dad. Along the way, Blunt's ne-er-do-well slacker learns to care for others and take responsibility for herself in an awkward-feeling subplot featuring 24's awkward-feeling inducing Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Adams' never-get-a-man maid virtually ignores the most interesting character on screen. That would be the shop owner played by veteran character actor Clifton Collins, Jr. - for reasons unsaid, his character has but one arm, and if you didn't know better, you'd think Collins himself had lost a limb (he hadn't, and digital effects weren't used, in what amounts to the most impressive feat of the film).

While I wouldn't turn anyone away from Sunshine Cleaning, the film is too reminiscent of better recent films - one a sibling dramedy dealing with death and family (The Savages), the other featuring a quirky, Alan Arkin-fathered family (need it be said?), to be overly recommended. Hell, there's even another Alan Arkin starring film from the last 15 years that deals with sibling rivalry and the lower middle class that I prefer: Slums of Beverly Hills. Still, I seem to be a sucker for modern New Mexico-set films (The Tao of Steve, First Snow, Little Miss Sunshine, 21 Grams, etc.), and it's awfully nice to see Steve Zahn getting to play an actual adult (he is 41, after all).

Fletch's Film Rating:

"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."

6 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Mini Film Review: Sunshine Cleaning"

David Bishop said...

Of all the characters on 24 to kill off, why not Chloe?

You know, I was really on the fence with this movie. Now, I'm still on the fence.

Fletch said...

I stopped watching 24 a long, long time ago, David. Though I did hear that Chloe is back - is that right?

I'm more on the good side of the fence than the bad one, but let's just say it was a small fence.

Pat said...

I'm glad you mentioned "Slums of Beverly Hills," which is undeservedly forgotten. It's better than "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Sunshine Cleaning" combined.

Rupert Brooks said...


Very interesting review over here... Sunshine surely is a rare and innovative movie... True, well-executed. Thanks a lot for sharing this honest review on Sunshine Cleaning, keep up the good work :)

blakecgriffin said...

Yes. It IS too reminiscent of better films. And with that talent, the filmmakers should be bummed they didn't put it to use.

Reel Whore said...

Neither of us were impressed by this. I'm glad Zhan got to play grown-up, he's such a better actor than he's given credit and roles for.

Mary Lynn Rasjkub and Clifton Collins, Jr. - could they be our collabo?