Is it possible for a movie to be charming, while not being particularly good? Well, yes, especially when Amy Adams is involved.
I remember when I first laid eyes on her, she walked into Dunder Mifflin Scranton to sell purses and left Michael Scott’s mouth agape on The Office. Then she donned an enormous wedding dress and sing-song voice and after about the fifteenth time my little cousin made me watch Enchanted, I couldn’t get her out of my head for good. And in Doubt when she donned that habit I just….alright, well, I didn’t see Doubt, but I bet she was spectacular.
So needless to say I pretty much came to see Sunshine Cleaning for Amy Adams, and yes, she was perfectly adorable the entire time, but I was disappointed there wasn’t a lot more from the movie, the second sunshine-related dark comedy from the producers of Little Miss Sunshine.
Rose (Adams) and Norah (an Americanized Emily Blunt) are two sisters with little direction in life. Rose is a maid-for-hire while Norah just got fired from her job as a waitress because she apparently can’t walk in a straight line without tripping.
When she’s not cleaning house, Rose has an eight year old who she promptly neglects by having her sister watch him while she sneaks out to have an affair with married police officer Mac (Steve Zahn). He turns her on to the idea of crime scene cleanup, saying that crews make big bucks to scrape brains off of walls and get bloodstains out of carpets.
Rose pitches the idea to Norah, and the two of them get their Windex out and head over to clean up after a number of accidents, suicides and old people that no one checked in on for months.
Tenant’s name was…Norman Bates?
Sure it’s a good time to watch Blunt and Adams gag and cringe at the messy jobs, but beyond that, there isn’t a whole lot of substance to the film. Adams’ entire relationship with Mac is dismissed in a shallow scene where she says, “I don’t want to see you any more” and he says, “OK, I guess this is it.” And we never see him again. Stirring.
The movie has some great supporting characters that are completely wasted in the film’s climax. Clifton Collins Jr. is Winston, a bespectacled, bemustached, one-armed cleaning supplies sales clerk with a crush on Rose. 24’s Mary Lynn Rasjkub is Lynn, a woman who works in a blood-donor clinic with a crush on Norah. Yeah, how’s that for a pair of interesting angles?
But nothing happens. The characters fade into the mist and don’t appear in any form in the resolution, making their involvement in the film feel like a waste of time. You don’t spend an hour and a half building up a budding lesbian relationship only to toss it out the window with an impromptu “find yourself” hippie road trip.
I feel that the film was written based on the single concept of “cute, funny girls clean up after dead people” and all the other characters, the hyperactive son, the entrepreneurial dad, the one-armed clerk, the lesbian crush, were all just thrown in to fill space, and they didn’t know what to do with most of them by the end.
All the characters in Little Miss Sunshine were quirky as well, but they all served a purpose, and they all worked together in harmony onscreen. Sunshine Cleaning is all Amy Adams, with a little Blunt thrown in for good measure.
Nice try, but it’s going to take a cute redhead AND a good script to win me over next time.
2.5 out of 5 stars
This guy: total badass.