Shawn Levy. Release Date: October 7, 2011.
I never intended on seeing this. I've been referring to it as the "rock 'em, sock 'em" robot movie since I first saw previews for Real Steel about eight months ago. It looked... well, dumb. But, when I got an invitation to go see this with a friend, I decided what the hell. I can always go see Ides of March later this week. My original schedule was based on a life where I was still unemployed, and I haven't quite adapted to my new life with an income yet. I scheduled with a heavy dependency on Netflix and my own personal collection, but I don't have to stick to that.
So I went in to rock 'em, sock 'em not expecting a whole lot. I like Hugh Jackman, and that remains true, even though this was not a character that the audience was designed to hate. The guy obviously has problems and I learned to like him despite those problems. Based on Jackman's presence and what we got from the previews, I expected this to be something shiny, happy, and aimed at the youngest members of the audience.
Admittedly, there was some of that. The human-on-human violence was kept light, and most of the swearing actually comes from the kid (something I haven't seen in a good long while). But, what eventually attracted me was how much fun the movie was. The robots were kind of cool, and it wasn't long before I was (silently) rooting for Atom, who happens to be one of the greatest underdogs ever. I know absolutely nothing about boxing, but I still got in to the fights when they appeared.
I love a good underdog tale. I love a story about a boy and his dog, I mean robot. I even love one of those stories where adults relearn a bit of their humanity because a child comes in to their life. There was something... satisfying about the story that unfolds as the movie runs its course. I especially liked it because the ending I'd imagined for the movie didn't quite come to pass. This is pretty family friendly, but a lot of what we see is more real world than whitewashed, which is also something I appreciate in a family movie.
Sunshine Cleaning. R, 1 hr. 42 min. Directed by: Christine Jeffs. Release Date: March 13, 2009. DVD Release Date: August 25, 2009.
At the very forefront of this story was a clunky premise: who just happens to “fall” in to cleaning up after crime scenes? Who just happens to skirt state and federal laws, ignores protocols, and manages to keep even a fledgling company up and running? This is billeted as a comedy, but even as a dark comedy, this doesn’t work out so well. It… isn’t funny, not even in the way that you might expect from a comedy that mocks traditional humor. Now, that’s not to say that this doesn’t occasionally hit the mark and make me laugh, and unusually when it’s totally inappropriate, such as the seasoned professional crime scene cleaner throwing up in the middle of a job, or the, um, “love” scene between Eric Christian and Emily Blunt, which looked painful even from where I was sitting.
This may not have worked as a comedy, but as an exploration into the lives of a family that has been overcome with insurmountable obstacles, I’m not sure that I’ve seen a better movie. I suggest ignoring the trapping and look at what the various members of the Lorkowski family has survived and how they survived it. Both daughters are flawed in the ways you might expect: low self-esteem, dependency on miserable romances that drive them both further into despair instead of pulling them out of it. Each is trying to make something out of the shambles of their life; but we never really see them succeed.
What we don’t see them do is give up. It’s a remarkable thing watching Rose and Norah push their way doggedly through life, not so much dodging the obstacles that life throws in their path as bulldozing through them. Amy Adams and Emily Blunt deliver kind of moving, heartfelt performances of the kind we don’t usually get to see from Hollywood’s film-churning machine. This has left me hoping that both of them continue to do independent films.
Watching this, I wasn’t sure if this would end well. At ten minutes before the end of the film, it looks pretty bleak. I won’t tell you whether it ended well or not… and the truth is, I’m not entirely sure how to interpret the ending. The whole thing felt vaguely unsatisfactory, as if I had some expectation of the end that wasn’t quite met. I also have nothing but questions about the road trip. What went on behind the scenes that I didn’t figure out? Any ideas?
This is interesting, and it’s certainly something I hadn’t seen before. Not so much the big picture, but the details are certainly unique. Sunshine Cleaning is totally worth a view if you’re looking for something different.