(Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, et al / DVD / R / 2009 / Anchor Bay)
Overview: Desperate to get her son into a better school, single mom Rose (Amy Adams) persuades her slacker sister Norah (Emily Blunt) to join her in the crime scene cleanup business to make some quick cash. With the help of their ill-fated salesman father (Alan Arkin), they climb the ranks in a very dirty job, finding themselves up to their elbows in murders, suicides, and… specialized situations.
DVD Verdict: It is hard to hate a film like "Sunshine Cleaning." It is made with low budget, has interesting characters with excellent acting from the impressive cast including Amy Adams, Emily Blunt and Alan Arkin, plus the nice location of Albuquerque. Interestingly three of the producers of "Sunshine Cleaning" - Jeb Brody, Peter Saraf and Marc Turtletaub - are also the producers of "Little Miss Sunshine" (of which cast also included Alan Arkin).
To send her son to a private school, single mother Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams) sets up a small company specializing in cleaning up the crime scenes with her trouble-making sister Norah (Emily Blunt). In this comedy-drama about a dysfunctional family we are introduced to a group of people (some deeply troubled, some quirky) living in Albuquerque. The film's feel-good tone, if not the entire story, may remind you of another "Sunshine" film.
There is nothing wrong with the film's narrative or characters. And, sorry, there is nothing special either. For all its impressive performances from the leads, I couldn't help thinking that I had seen the film somewhere else before - troubled relations between sisters and their hidden past, mother and her child who starts to behave strangely, grumpy grandfather talking about his "business acumen" (played by Alan Arkin who did a similar role in "Little Miss Sunshine). Steve Zahn appears as Mac, a local police officer (and former high school hero), having an affair with Amy Adam's heroine. His acting is very good (as he always is), but his role give me a feeling of déjà vu.
I am not saying "Sunshine Cleaning" is bad, but I can safely say the director Christine Jeffs ("Sylvia") is wasting the promising material that could have made a much better film. Clifton Collins Jr. is Winston, a one-armed hardware store owner who gives her some good advice on the job. He is quite effective, and perhaps his role is more engaging than the main story, but the director seems to have forgotten to explore it.
"Sunshine Cleaning" has many good premises. It is a good film though it could have made much better use of them. [TKJ] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Audio Commentary with writer Megan Holley and producer Greg Williamson
"Sunshine Cleaning: A Fresh Look at a Dirty Business”