Combustible Celluloid
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With: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Jason Spevack, Steve Zahn, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Clifton Collins Jr., Eric Christian Olsen, Paul Dooley, Kevin Chapman, Judith Jones, Amy Redford
Written by: Megan Holley
Directed by: Christine Jeffs
MPAA Rating: R for language, disturbing images, some sexuality and drug use
Running Time: 91
Date: 01/18/2008

Sunshine Cleaning (2009)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Occupational Biohazards

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed by Christine Jeffs (Rain, Sylvia), Sunshine Cleaning has that "Sundance" vibe, in that it feels overly developed and tested for a bittersweet 'indie" feel and for maximum quirkiness; it almost deliberately wants you to think of Little Miss Sunshine. Among the oddball bits and pieces we get a boy who thinks he can communicate with the dead via a CB radio, a man trying to sell black market shrimp and a one-armed industrial cleaning product supplier. But somehow among all these overt, obvious attempts we get two genuinely touching performances by Amy Adams and Emily Blunt as sisters Rose and Norah. Rose is a single mother who was once a hot-stuff cheerleader, but now she works cleaning houses. She still sleeps with her high school football hero boyfriend Mac (Steve Zahn), even though he is married to another woman with kids of his own. Norah is more or less a general screw-up. At Mac's suggestion, Rose and Norah start a business cleaning crime scenes for much bigger money, though they realize that there's a lot more to learn than they initially thought. Norah finds a wallet at one crime scene and attempts to return it to its owner's daughter (Mary Lynn Rajskub) but discovers why she's not supposed to get personally involved. As in Little Miss Sunshine, Alan Arkin is on hand once again as the crusty grandfather who provides much-needed levity to balance the rest of the bittersweet, though his character feels tacked-on. Indeed, whatever successful moments the movie has are directly the result of the stars' presence and talent.

DVD Details: Anchor Bay released the 2009 DVD, with a commentary track by screenwriter Holley and producer Glenn Williamson, and a featurette about the movie and the crime scene cleaning business. Oddly, even in this day and age, it also has a choice between widescreen and pan-and-scan versions.

Best Buy Co, Inc.