Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    A smartly done morality tale that couldn't be more in sync with these troubled times.
  2. 80
    It's a solid indie effort with plenty of nice character strokes by screenwriter Megan Holley and razor-sharp performances by Amy Adams and Emily Blunt.
  3. Reviewed by: Stina Chyn
    Beneath its morbid exterior, Sunshine Cleaning projects a tender portrait of how people help out others and seek a better life for themselves.
  4. 75
    This funny and touching movie depends on two can-do actresses to scrub past the biohazard of noxious clichés that threaten to intrude. Adams and Blunt get the job done.
  5. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Dark humor intersperses with poignant moments. Though the conclusion feels forced, the movie works.
  6. 75
    This bittersweet comedy is a fine showcase for a pair of distinctive and appealing talents.
  7. Reviewed by: Cammila Albertson
    It's a solid depiction of a relatable story, and it's absolutely modest about all of it, especially stylistically, where things stay remarkably reeled in.
  8. 75
    Perhaps the most compelling reason to see Sunshine Cleaning is the pairing of two of the best and most charismatic young actresses today.
  9. Kudos to Clifton Collins Jr., who appears as a dispenser of cleaning products and common sense.
  10. The director, New Zealander Christine Jeffs ("Sylvia"), loosens the plotting as best she can, letting the interactions breathe. Her work, and the film, is strictly about the performers.
  11. That Sunshine Cleaning was made by women is best revealed in the filmmakers' willingness to let the story breathe on its own terms, without bringing in anything extraneous, unwelcome and exciting.
  12. 75
    Its overall ability to balance humor and drama, attention to emotional detail and a few winning performances outweighs its maudlin tendencies.
  13. 75
    Amy Adams beguiled audiences in "Junebug" and "Enchanted" and breathed humanity into the histrionic "Doubt." In the eccentric comedy-drama Sunshine Cleaning, set in the least picturesque parts of Albuquerque, N.M., she tops her own proven talent for epiphany.
  14. Amy Adams and Emily Blunt are two highly attractive, naturally funny actresses on the cusp of stardom so their pairing here as two lost souls is genius.
  15. Though this well-observed, wry drama is determined to be quirky, its most endearing quality, like that of its heroines, is a willingness to wallow in foul moods and come out the other side.
  16. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Alan Arkin virtually reprises his Oscar-winning role from "Little Miss Sunshine."
  17. You'll miss out on some really great stuff if you don't see this surprising movie.
  18. This peachcolored comedy about a wacky family who shove their sadness into a bulging closet is being marketed as ''from the producers of Little Miss Sunshine'' All that's missing from the formula is a Volkswagen Microbus.
  19. The best thing to come out of Sunshine Cleaning is the confirmation that Adams, one of Hollywood's most delightful comediennes, is also capable of piercing drama.
  20. 67
    Alan Arkin is charm itself as the girls' dreamy father. Indeed, director Christine Jeffs coaxes only good work from the whole of her cast.
  21. Reviewed by: Olivia Putnal and Krista Soriano
    This is definitely one to make you feel good all over.
  22. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    An intelligent, often touching, sometimes pedestrian drama.
  23. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    Could have been a little more darkly comic in places but the performances are superb.
  24. 58
    There is a time and a place for scruffy independent also-rans like this, and that time and place is the 2 a.m. slot on IFC.
  25. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Director Christine Jeffs, who previously helmed "Rain" and "Sylvia," tries to strike a balance between the yarn's dark currents and offbeat comedy, but the result is often uneasy, with the humor receding as things progress.
  26. Reviewed by: Robert Wilonsky
    More than a year after its first twirl at Sundance, this Amy Adams–Emily Blunt dramedy finally shrugs its way into theaters, and it feels almost like an afterthought.
  27. 50
    How you'll feel about Sunshine Cleaning probably depends on your tolerance for slender, semi-hip comedic dramas about oddball families grappling with sometimes overwhelming problems.
  28. 50
    The material might have promise as a black comedy, but its attempt to put on a smiling face is unconvincing.
  29. It's like an elevated form of sitcom acting, which may be inevitable because this movie, and all its quirky/heartfelt kin, are an elevated version of the sitcom itself.
  30. Reviewed by: Josh Rosenblatt
    Sunshine Cleaning doesn't exist in relation to the outside world but only to other movies. Its characters aren't human beings but cultural signifiers and indie-movie stereotypes created to survive in the laboratory safety of the festival circuit but never meant to actually walk the streets or talk to strangers.
  31. 40
    All in all, it's a mess, and much as Ms. Blunt pouts, Ms. Adams twinkles, and Mr. Arkin growls, there's nothing they can do to clean it up.
  32. Reviewed by: Dan Zak
    A boring, choppy dramedy.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 65 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 22
  2. Negative: 4 out of 22
  1. Oct 26, 2014
    Sunshine Cleaning: 7 out of 10: Sunshine cleaning is by the producers of Little Miss Sunshine. In addition, although Alan Arkin plays aSunshine Cleaning: 7 out of 10: Sunshine cleaning is by the producers of Little Miss Sunshine. In addition, although Alan Arkin plays a similar role in both (What could easily be considered the Alan Arkin role by now) the film is very different in tone.

    It consists of two sisters who are behind in life due to their own choices. There are no “victims” here. These women (played very well by Amy Adams and Emily Blunt) have made some bad decisions in life and as a result are playing catch-up.

    The movie (unlike Little Miss Sunshine) simply does not have a false note. All the people places and situations are remarkably believable. You will learn more about the do’s and don’ts of crime scene clean-up than you thought possible.

    The movie is also wonderfully free of cynicism and snarkiness. While both those elements certainly have a place in film, it is refreshing to see a warm comedy about real people in transitional circumstances.

    Overall, Sunshine Cleaning is light fair with warm feelings and a happy ending. Kudos to the film in not making the protagonists perfect or victims or circumstance and kudos for casting two wonderful actresses that actual look and act like they could be real sisters.
    Full Review »
  2. Sep 1, 2014
    Sunshine Cleaning is familiar, yet absolutely fresh. A dark subject matter that could turn folks away--but the film makes light of it. I foundSunshine Cleaning is familiar, yet absolutely fresh. A dark subject matter that could turn folks away--but the film makes light of it. I found Amy Adams and Emily Blunt to be more than enough to make this film worth it. Full Review »
  3. Feb 24, 2013
    Released as a highly anticipated feature at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, and distributed by the producers of the acclaimed comedy, LittleReleased as a highly anticipated feature at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, and distributed by the producers of the acclaimed comedy, Little Miss Sunshine, everyone hoped Sunshine Cleaning would be brilliant. It is for those reasons that I think Sunshine Cleaning is not as liked as it should. I feel like because it was not as good as Little Miss Sunshine, viewers and critics unfairly judge the film. In doing so they missed out on a great movie experience. What I found in this film was a touching, emotional story fueled by a fantastic cast, and an indie flare that holds it all together. The story was so depressing, more depressing than I thought it would be. I imagined a comedy, but this film is most definitely a drama. The cast was absolutely fantastic. Amy Adams amazed me as I knew she would. She's my favorite actress and she does not disappoint here. She delivers a great performance, portraying multiple emotions and experiences so much. She was so convincing and I felt for her character through the whole film. Emily Blunt also gives a fantastic performance as the sister. She experiences similar things as her sister, but still the character required a special approach, and Blunt delivers. The combination of Adams and Blunt is incredible...and they're both so cute. I can't resist the two of them together. Alan Arkin also is convincing as the lonely father. His character could have been more developed, but I thought he did a very nice job. Supporting actors Steve Zahn, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Clifton Collins Jr., also work nicely in the film. Great cast! I loved this film. I expected to like it, but I also was prepared for disappointment, but the movie delivered for me. I definitely think this film had opportunities to completely "hit it out of the park," but I still really really enjoyed it. I recommend this film! Full Review »