I know. It’s a little bit hard to swallow. But what emerges from this peculiar scenario is a comedy that’s trying to be so much more than just a comedy. And for the most part, with the right combination of actors, it succeeds. Amy Adams is fantastic, straddling the line between perky and troubled, harkening back to her breakthrough role in 2005’s Junebug. And Emily Blunt, in all her sullen, disheveled splendor is just fucking cool -- major friend-crush material for sure. A certain lesbian plotline between her and 24’s Mary Lynn Rajskub stole a lot of my attention. Meanwhile, Alan Arkin rehashes his quirky paternal thing from Little Miss Sunshine, as a misguided schemer who purchases food in bulk, puts the word “fancy” in front of it (“fancy corn,” “fancy shrimp”), and tries to sell it to local vendors at full price.
Although we’re left with some loose ends, Sunshine Cleaning really delivers in a way that most people wouldn’t expect. It’s complex and a bit touching, but not so much so that it was sentimental. I wasn’t surprised to learn it involves many of the producers from Little Miss Sunshine. Since that film was released in 2006, tons of filmmakers have continuously tried (and failed) to mine that kind of dysfunctional-family gold. It’s nice to see someone finally succeed.
-- MIKE BERLIN
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