Directed By: Christine Jeffs
Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Jason Spevack, Steve Zahn
The Lorkowski’s are down and out. Rose is stuck cleaning the homes of her High School peers. Oscar has just gotten kicked out of another school. Norah can’t hold down a job and Joe is having trouble unloading a car load of shrimp, but an unusual business opportunity may just be the solution to all of their problems.
Rose Lorkowski, Amy Adams, is scrapping by, but it’s not easy. It’s humiliating finding out the owner of the house your cleaning is a fellow cheerleader, but at least she’s still sleeping with the former high school football star. It’s just too bad that it’s in a cheap hotel and he leaves her each time to go home to his wife and kid. Still she’s got Oscar, Jason Spevack, her son, only she’s just got a call from the school. He’s in trouble again. This time it’s serious and it’s either put Oscar on medication or withdraw him from the school. Rose withdraws him from the school. The plan is to enroll him in a private school that can give him more individual attention but this of course is going to require some cash which the whole Lorkowski family is short of at the moment. Rose, desperate, calls Mac, the former football star now police detective play by Steve Zahn, for help. Mac suggests getting into crime scene cleanup and explains that he heard the guy that cleaned up a suicide he worked that day got a check for thirty five hundred.
Rose is ready for anything by this time and recruits her sister Norah, Emily Blunt, to help her out. The first job isn’t easy but the five hundred dollar check is the most exiting thing to happen to either of them for a while. After finding out they were breaking all the rules and getting set on the right path by a sympathetic cleaning supply store owner Winston, Clifton Collins Jr. they start to find a groove even going as far as buying a used van to haul themselves and their supplies around. Everything seems to be going well and Rose is even able to hold her head up high and not lie about what she does at a former classmate’s baby shower, but it all starts to fall apart again when Norah saves a kitten but accidentally burns a customers house down. Now Rose is even further in debt than she was to begin with and Oscar is still not enrolled in a new school, but as bad as things appear maybe Rose, Norah, Oscar and Joe, Rose and Norah’s father played by Alan Arkin, have learned something about family and themselves.
Amy Adams is great as Rose Lorkowski but she’s got a lot of supporting talent. Emily Blunt is terrific, Alan Arkin is as watchable as ever and Jason Spevack as Oscar is outstanding. Even the supporting roles are well handeled. Steve Zahn as Mac is more than believable in the first non comedy role I have seen him in and there’s even a small part played by Paul Dooley. The movie was filmed mostly in Albuquerque and the cinematographer took full advantage of the landscape and desert light. Most of the film looks simply wonderful. The story is tight, there are a few little bumps but it flows very well. It’s not an overly complicated story, it does not try to bite of more than it can chew. The story is about a slice of these characters lives during a particularly challenging period of time. Lessons are learned and relationships formed, broken and strengthened but nothing is stretched to the point of being unbelievable.
The video is presented in wide screen and full screen format. The blacks were all crisp and never grayed out. It’s a sharp, clean transfer which you would expect from a new release. The only defects I noticed were a little aliasing around the edges of back lit subjects and some striped objects get a little blurry but none of these ever rose to a level of being distracting and were no more than what you will usually find. Some of the dark interior scenes contained a hint of grain in the backgrounds but the subjects were always detailed nicely.
The Blu-Ray is a huge step above the standard def DVD featuring fantastic depth, deep blacks, and extremely high detail levels. There is a thin layer of grain throughout the film that actually makes the film look like “film” rather tahn a digital presentation. It’s a fine line on which this kind of grain exists and that line is never crossed in this film. This blu-ray really defines what Anchor Bay can do with the format and hopefully we’ll see more of their films looking this good in HD>
The audio is presented in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound with English and Spanish subtitles. The dialog is always clear and well mixed with the wonderful score by Michael Penn. It’s organic and complements the movie perfectly.
This Blu-Ray features a TrueHD presentation that’s subtle but well mixed and clean. The surrounds do get some use in the ambient sound department which is perfect for this film. Some of the ambient sounds do a great job making scenes more immersive. It’s not a mindblowing presentation but it fits the film well.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The DVD is packaged in a standard Amaray DVD case with a cardboard slipcover. The artwork is great, recalling a gag from the movie. The cover artwork is paralleled in the DVD menu’s which are well laid out and easy to navigate. The wide screen and full frame movie are on the same disc along with an audio commentary with the writer and producer. There is also an interesting featurette about a pair of ladies who actually run a crime scene cleanup business. Finally there’s a theatrical trailer for the film. There’s not an abundance of bonus features but what’s there is entertaining and worth taking a look at.
The Blu-Ray Features all of these same bonus features.
This is a fun little movie. It doesn’t break any ground and nobody simply blows you away with their acting chops but it’s an enjoyable ninety minute diversion from whatever else is going on in your life.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Movie 8/10
The Video 7/10 Blu-Ray 9110
The Audio 7/10 Blu-Ray 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 7/10 Blu-Ray 7/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10