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Sunshine Cleaning is not the Little Miss Sunshine II that some may have expected...
Director: Christine Jeffs
Cast: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Jason Spevack, Steve Zahn, Mary Jane Rajskub, Clifton Collins jun.
3 stars (out of 5)
Review by Mark Orton
The unfortunate thing for Sunshine Cleaning is that some over-excited marketing exec seized on an association between Alan Arkin and the film title, put two and two together and came up with Little Miss Sunshine: Part 2.
Yep, there are a few laughs, but by and large, Sunshine Cleaning is a whole lot darker than you might expect.
Alan Arkin (Joe) is once again cast as the grandfather, but his demeanour this time is a whole lot more sober.
As the only constant male presence in the Lorkowski family, Joe the snake-oil salesman offers fatherly guidance to his grandson Oscar (Jason Spevack), while his daughters bicker about their purposeless lives.
Rose, played by the irrepressible Amy Adams, has looks on her side but, as so often happens to Miss Popular at college, she suffers from failed relationships and missed opportunities.
Stumbling upon a potentially lucrative business cleaning up crime scenes, Rose engages her apathetic sister (Emily Blunt) for a fresh start.
An intriguing meditation on sibling relationships is thrown bare as Adams and Blunt brilliantly eke every ounce of drama out of their respective characters.
However unconventional their route to redemption might be, the blatant signposting never allows the viewer to buy into the possibility that life is about to improve for the Lorkowski family.
With Arkin's cantankerous fatherly presence casting a shadow over proceedings, it's a cinematic crime to let Sunshine Cleaning languish in unsatisfactory-ending land, but that is precisely what happens.
Best thing: Amy Adams getting to grips with a more substantial role than Mrs Pettigrew Lives For a Day.
Worst thing: Not going for the killer blow: jabs don't make truly great films.
See it with: No expectation for the next Little Miss Sunshine.