138 user 194 critic

Sunshine Cleaning (2008)

R | | Comedy, Drama | 17 April 2009 (USA)
2:33 | Trailer

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In order to raise the tuition to send her young son to private school, a mom starts an unusual business -- a biohazard removal/crime scene clean-up service -- with her unreliable sister.



2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Judith Jones ...
Paula Datzman-Mead
Gun Shop Suicide
Gun Shop Owner
Ivan Brutsche ...
Above and Beyond Worker


A family. Rose and Norah, in Albuquerque, lost their mother when they were young. Rose is responsible - a housecleaner, raising her seven-year-old son Oscar. She's also having an affair with Mac, a married cop, her high-school sweetheart. Norah can't hold a job. Their dad, Joe, is quirky. When Oscar is expelled for odd behavior, Rose wants to earn enough to send him to private school. Mac suggests she clean up after crime scenes, suicides, and deaths that go undiscovered for awhile. Rose enlists Norah, and Sunshine Cleaners is born. Norah bonds with the dead, Rose finds out that it's a regulated business, and complications arise. Can a family marked by tragedy sort things out? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


life's a messy business.


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, disturbing images, some sexuality and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

17 April 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cong Ty Lau Chui  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$219,190, 15 March 2009, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$12,062,558, 9 July 2009

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Eric Christian Olsen filmed several scenes as Norah's boyfriend Randy, and most of them were cut. He only appears in the party scene, where Norah says "he's not my boyfriend" and when he and Norah have sex as she sees a news report about an accident. See more »


When Rose and Norah clean up after a suicide committed by a "Mr. Davis", they enter a room where several rosaries and a crucifix are hanging on the wall, indicating that the couple is Roman Catholic. Since Catholics believe committing suicide irrevocably sends you to hell, it is extremely doubtful that the husband would commit suicide. See more »


[first lines]
Talking Deer Head: Attention all fellow deer. If you find deer feed in the middle of the forest, be a bit suspicious.
See more »


Referenced in The Rotten Tomatoes Show: Watchmen/Shuttle/12 (2009) See more »


Spirit in the Sky
Written and Performed by Norman Greenbaum
Courtesy of Transtone Productions
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A slice of pecan pie
22 March 2009 | by See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. Ahhh, the first 2009 script (by Megan Holley) that has the depth, nuances and multiple sub-plots that keep me addicted to movies. Sure one can view this as a simple story of the emotionally struggling sisters who start a bio-hazard clean-up company to connect not just with each other, but also with those who have been the victim of a profound event involving a loved one. It works just fine on that level.

Of course, I never make things that easy. For this viewer, I was absorbed in the connection the sisters had to their dead mother. The quest for a glimpse of her one movie of the week performance as a waitress had the sisters trained to stop in their tracks whenever a "waitress" scene appeared on TV. The sisters are played exceedingly well by the extraordinarily talented Amy Adams and Emily Blunt. Their performances lift a really good script to greatness.

For most movies, that would be plenty. Not here. Director Christine Jeffs ("Sylvia") gets to play with Alan Arkin as the always scheming father, a quick commentary on the disgusting "solution" of public schools tendency to require medication on less than robotic kids, emotionally empty relationships, and the absolute need of people to connect with others.

The fine acting continues with Steve Zahn as the former high school hero turned local cop, whom Adams' character has maintained a long term "bond". Trouble is Zahn's character picked someone else to marry. Clifton Collins Jr adds a wonderful dimension as Adams' possibly new prospect. Mary Lynn Rajskub is just plain fascinating as the lonely lady Blunt thinks she is helping.

Being promoted as from the creators of "Little Miss Sunshine", this one offers up a nice story complimented by many quirks that make it stand apart from the masses. Hopefully it will find wider distribution as we can never have enough top notch story telling.

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