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Sunshine Cleaning

MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for language, disturbing images, some sexuality and drug use.

Reviewed by: Misty Wagner

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Comedy, Crime
1 hr. 42 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
April 3, 2009 (expansion—500 theaters)
March 27, 2009 (wide—250 theaters)
March 20, 2009 (expansion—50 theaters)
March 13, 2009 (limited—4 theaters)
Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films Copyright, Overture Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Overture Films

Drunkenness in the Bible

About murder in the Bible

Death in the Bible

Final judgment

Adultery in the Bible

SUICIDE—What does the Bible say? Answer

If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer

GAY—What’s wrong with being gay? Answer
Homosexual behavior versus the Bible: Are people born gay? Does homosexuality harm anyone? Is it anyone’s business? Are homosexual and heterosexual relationships equally valid?

What about gays needs to change? Answer
It may not be what you think.

Featuring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Jason Spevack, Steve Zahn, Mary Lynn Rajskub
Chloe O'Brian on “24” TV series

Clifton Collins Jr., Eric Christian Olsen, Paul Dooley, Kevin Chapman, Judith Jones, Amy Redford, Christopher Dempsey, Vic Browder, Ivan Brutsche, Arron Shiver, Ralph Jason Aukison, Cliff Garstka Sr., Charles Domenici, Susie Yip, Mike Miller, Sarah Hudnut, Anya Alyassin, Pab Schwendimann, William Sterchi, Amber Midthunder, Angelique Midthunder, Olive Gallagher, Lois Geary, Frank E. Cruz, Esodi Geiger, Kevin Wiggins, Epifanio Hernández, McKenna Hutton, Mason Frank, Marya Beauvais, Maddie Corman, Rebekah Wiggins, Kristin Reese, Veronica Hernandez, Jourdan Reese, Josh Berry
Director: Christine Jeffs
Producer: Back Lot Pictures, Big Beach Films, Clean Sweep Productions, Jeb Brody, Bob Dohrmann, Dan Genetti, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, Glenn Williamson
Distributor: Overture Films

“Life’s a messy business.”

Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams) cleans homes for a living. Miserably so, she attempts to include herself in the pace society keeps, but somehow continually gets left in the dust of the luxury automobiles racing past her. She finds herself stuck—stuck as a maid in Albuquerque, cleaning million dollar homes; stuck as a single mother whose son appears giftedly bright with no school willing to take the time to understand him—and lastly, stuck in a relationship with her high school sweetheart (Steve Zahn) who is now married to another woman. Rose wakes up every morning and recites positive affirmations to herself, in the bathroom mirror. She hopes for more, but settles for exactly what she has.

Norah (Emily Blunt), Rose’s younger sister, is stuck in entirely different ways—drugs, drinking and dead end jobs that she can’t seem to keep… Both girls now adult products of a tragically dysfunctional childhood.

When Rose finds herself needing money right away, she realizes that it’s time to take the leap and strive for more. When she learns what kind of money can be made from bio-hazard removal and crime scene clean-up, she decides this is the stepping stone she needs to get where she is going. Recently unemployed, Norah pitches in reluctantly and thus, Sunshine Cleaning is born.

“Sunshine Cleaning” is an honest portrayal of life. Its honesty isn’t censored or candy-coated. Though endearing, poignant and sometimes funny, there are parts of this film that are not easily swallowed. There are difficult subjects from beginning to end including murder, suicide, homosexuality and adultery. There is heavy profanity scattered throughout the majority of this film, as well. Those easily offended should definitely not watch this movie.

While this film was quite heavy in content, I truly enjoyed it. With every sub-plot line and character, I found myself appreciative of the story within the film. As these characters reached their lowest moments, and then found the courage to walk towards something better—I internally cheered. Life is hard, often ugly and always uncensored, and sometimes it’s refreshing to see a film that is realistic and relatable.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:


Neutral—Why is it that a movie that is so well done, with a very original, well-crafted story that is crystal clear to understand and appreciate, fantastic performances from two of our best actresses today, intelligently edited and with a pleasingly complex plot, needs to be so full of immoral elements? This is a terrific movie, but not for Christians.

The two leading characters are believable as two sisters who are desperately trying to support themselves, but they indulge in adultery, casual sex, drug use, lawlessness, and there are some homosexual moments. The serious issues of immorality are clouded by the appealing actors and the well-written screenplay.

As well-made as the movie is, I can only recommend it for its artistic qualities and the themes of sisterly love and forgiveness, a father’s care, as eccentric as it is, for his family, and the little bit of humor cleverly thrown in.

My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½

Halyna Barannik, age 63 (USA)
p class="comment">Neutral—I just wanted to note that this film is in NO way a comedy—it is a drama. Also, there is a shot of rear nudity.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
Marcella, age 34 (USA)
Negative—I thought the movie had a great premise. The cast appeared to be very good (Amy Adams, Alan Arkin, Emily Blunt). Ok—those were the good points of the movie. The characters themselves to be totally lacking in a moral compass. The two sisters can’t even be honest with each other about their sleeping around. The plot itself is vague and left you with the feeling that the characters didn’t change much. Where was the repentance for sleeping with a married man? The script seemed to end with "we ran out of money! quick wrap it up!". I was very disappointed.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
Michael, age 44 (USA)
Movie Critics
…a smartly done morality tale… an offbeat and oddly endearing drama, leavened with just the right amount of comedy to even things out. …When it all comes together, you are left with a tableau of hope, humor and a truth-telling reality that is a salve for the recessionary soul.
Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times
…You’ll cheer this bold, fab film… sweet and appealing… Light but not insubstantial, charming without being glib, “Sunshine Cleaning” is a heartfelt and funny story of complicated family dynamics and life’s bizarre twists.
Claudia Puig, USA Today
…Ironically, the film is great at creating this messy family but less successful in the cleanup. The ideas—of Rose and Norah growing closer, of this unlikely career bringing a sense of empowerment, and of this dirty job allowing them to help the hurting—are all provocative in theory. But in execution, these themes are all told more than shown. …
Todd Hertz, Christianity Today
…forces comparison to its wildly successful predecessor [“Little Miss Sunshine”] and comes up short in all departments. … Still, the film is in good measure saved by the leads, especially Adams, who proves once again what a sparkling, irresistible screen presence she has. …
Todd McCarthy, Variety