Sunshine Cleaning


Sunshine Cleaning

Critics Consensus

Despite a sometimes overly familiar plot, Sunshine Cleaning benefits from the lively performances of its two stars.



Total Count: 173


Audience Score

User Ratings: 180,659
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Movie Info

A thirtysomething single mother whose boundless potential was squandered through a series of failed relationships and a misguided effort to help her younger sister succeed in life finds the fruits of her labors finally coming together in director Christine Jeffs' dark family comedy. Back in high school, the future looked pretty bright for Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams); not only was she the cheerleading captain, but she was also dating the star quarterback. Flash forward a little over a decade, and Rose is working overtime in hopes of getting her son into a better school. Her sister, Norah (Emily Blunt), is still living at home with their father, Joe (Alan Arkin), a failed salesman whose penchant for jumping into get-rich-quick schemes has left the family without a financial net to fall back on. Rose may be down, but she certainly isn't out, and when she hatches a plan to launch a crime-scene cleanup business, the money starts rolling in. Sure, cleaning up murder scenes and suicide sites may not be the most glamorous job in the world, but death is a fairly profitable business, and as the phone keeps ringing, Rose and Norah finally begin to experience the closeness of sisterhood that has eluded them all these years while also providing their family with true security. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi


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Critic Reviews for Sunshine Cleaning

All Critics (173) | Top Critics (47) | Fresh (128) | Rotten (45)

  • Jeffs makes a good fist of the direction and Blunt proves that she can do comedy, but it's Adams's comforting, charismatic central turn which really gives the film its lift.

    Jul 3, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    David Jenkins

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Ultimately, the film is too neat, and too cloyingly sweet to tackle anything resembling real life.

    Jul 3, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Instead of something fresh and funny, this film is as formulaic and empty as any Hollywood blockbuster.

    Jul 3, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Far from being a tragic grind, Sunshine Cleaning is one long, wonderful irony. It feels like a first film - delicate, fresh and female.

    Jul 3, 2009
  • Sunshine Cleaning will be the sleeper of this year, a movie soon to be talked about in the same breath as Sideways, Juno and Little Miss Sunshine.

    Jul 3, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • It's worthwhile just for Adams and Blunt, a partnership made in movie heaven.

    Jun 19, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Sunshine Cleaning

  • Jan 03, 2014
    Funny, poignant, endearing, and resonating, Sunshine Cleaning is an example of a dramedy done right. It's a film that captures the authentic family dynamics we can all relate to, in a story that is familiar, but with a narrative framework that is refreshing. The characters are flawed, the times are hard, yet the hopeful undercurrent is felt throughout. The film finds Amy Adams as a single mom who, by happenstance, endeavors on a crime-scene cleaning business. She struggles to find balance between her own misgivings (an affair with a married man and high school sweetheart), her adrift sister, her mischievous son, and her well-meaning father. The film is full of humor, but never at the sacrifice for its central narrative. It gives us a tapestry of people who feel real, all with their own struggles, and manages to give all their due. The themes are familiar, yet executed in an uncanny way. The performance of Amy Adams is, without question, the most successful thing about the film. She anchors every scene with a charisma, an energy, and comforting performance. We feel her insecurities, but appreciate her endurance. Her chemistry with Emily Blunt is also felt throughout, making for a very effective relationship between the two. Above all, the film feels smart. It's not whimsical for the sake of whimsical, it's not cliché, but feels mature. The humor is organic, the performances are endearing. It's lighthearted at times, yet undeniably poignant at the end. A very strong overall dramedy. 4/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 19, 2011
    Another well-portrayed Amy Adams character lights up this bleak slice of life, and the story about taking pride in yourself and your work shines through. With the hand they've been dealt, the Norkowski sisters (Adams, as Rose, and Emily Blunt as Nora) have every right to lie down and give up, but when an unorthodox opportunity knocks - an opportunity to go into business cleaning up violent crime scenes - the sisters relaunch themselves, and turn their lives in the right direction, though things can't stay sunny the whole way... can they? It's a decent movie overall, tugging hard (sometimes too hard) on our proverbial heartstrings, and leaving a few major questions unanswered, but it's a realistic, somewhat uplifting piece with an edge. A nice surprise.
    Daniel P Super Reviewer
  • Oct 29, 2011
    A very good film in the vein of such films as Little Miss Sunshine, Sunshine Cleaning is a charming and funny drama comedy film with a good cast. The film has a great story and the actors deliver wonderful, amusing performances. Sunshine Cleaning is the perfect example of an Indie film gets it right, using a simple story. Most indie films try to go overboard with the dialogue, story and acting, but Sunshine Cleaning has a perfect balance of everything that makes a good little film. This may not be a perfect film, however for the most part; it's a wonderfully executed film with great performances by Amy Adams and Emily Blunt. Along with King of California, Sunshine Cleaning is one of the best indie comedies to come out in quite some time. I very much enjoyed this film, and thought that the story was just great. The film succeeds on all levels at being a well rounded out drama comedy, and with the performances alone by the cast, Sunshine Cleaning is worth seeing. If you happen to come across this film at your local video store, give it a rent, you'll be surprised at how good it is. Sunshine Cleaning is a great little comedy film that blends dramatic elements very well. I thought that the story though a bit slow had enough momentum to keep me intrigued and entertained. If you're looking for a great indie comedy, give Sunshine Cleaning a view, this is a film worth watching. Brilliantly acted and directed.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Jun 22, 2011
    "I recommend the pecan pie." Sunshine Cleaning was a good light drama because of the great performances by Amy Adams and Emily Blunt. They are both two of the best young actresses that are making movies right now. Amy Adams really showed how good she was in The Fighter. The story in Sunshine Cleaning is interesting and entertaining enough. The story follows two sisters who start a business where they clean up after messy deaths. It's at times funny, and the chemistry between Adams and Blunt is really good. Well worth the watch.
    Melvin W Super Reviewer

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