From the same producers who brought you “Little Miss Sunshine”, “Sunshine Cleaning” is a warm, quirky, sad and emotionally uplifting story about families and the relationships and events that define them.
The ensemble cast of actors play off of each other beautifully. Amy Adams, as Rose the optimist, an ex-high school cheerleader and now a single mother trying to do the best for her son while working as a maid, is endearing. Emily Blunt, as her pessimistic sister Norah who lives at home with her irascible father (Alan Arkin) who is always in search of the next get-rich-quick scheme, is equally engaging. Arkin brings a fresh look to a familiar role.
Rose’s married boyfriend (Steve Zahn) and old high school sweetheart, is a homicide detective. He overhears a building supervisor complain about the cost of “cleaning up” following a suicide.
In need of quick cash, Rose and Norah are “advised” to go into the crime-scene clean-up business, a business they find more emotionally overwhelming then physically repulsive.
Additional characters, including a lonely blood bank worker and a one-armed cleaning supply salesman add another layer of punch to the movie.
Not as intense and funny as “Little Miss Sunshine”, the plot feels a bit contrived, however, the performances by Adams, Blunt and Arkin are worth the watch. At the end of the film, I found myself wanting to live with the family a little bit longer.