The world of cinema is a huge playground for the imagination, so it makes sense that we should watch a tearjerker film when we are in need of catharsis through a good cry, a romantic film when we are feeling, well, ready for romance, etc. But what about good, old-fashioned cleaning inspiration? Never fear, Freckles has ya’ back with my “top movie cleaning scenes.”
First, my self-imposed rules for what constitutes a good “clean” movie scene:
1) Focused on cleaning up and transforming a place, not a person. (Sorry, Encino Man, or just about any movie featuring a homeless person or prostitute.) Rags-to-riches people just seemed too easy to create a list around and really, most of us are not looking for even more inspiration to finally get around to cleaning ourselves up, though the bathtub scene in With Honors where Joe Pesci wears a Viking helmet while in the bubble bath should help if you need something like that. Likewise, this leaves out the Emerald City “getting washed up/clean stuffing/etc.” scene from The Wizard of Oz.
2) The cleaning must be undertaken by one of the main characters, and the process actually shown in the film (not just the result).
3) The cleaning can’t be just for cleaning’s sake (showing toil but no result), there has to be a real before and after change. (Sayanora, Cinderella…why *were* you washing already clean floors? I guess your Stepmom really was wicked. Sunshine Cleaning, also, fails to deliver on this account, despite the film name–lots of cleaning but no really memorable before/afters. And, despite Luke supposedly cleaning droids, I can’t say I would give Star Wars cleaning scene credit on this list.)
4) Must not make you want to cry. I added this because, in my mind, it’s what makes watching an episode of Clean Sweep quite different than watching an episode of Hoarders. This list is for feeling inspired to tackle something after a few minutes, not making you feel like hiding in bed, screening your phone calls.
So, without further ado:
Mary Poppins. The “tidy up the nursery/spoonful of sugar” scene is probably my personal favorite for cleaning; it led to me devoting untold hours over the course of my young life to learning to snap my fingers and then doing it before each major cleaning task, “just in case.”
Wall-e. This one was difficult to pinpoint, only because the entire film was pretty much an homage to reversing the ravages of slovenliness and pollution. Still, this scene is particularly moving for times when you think your task has become truly insurmountable.
Revenge of the Nerds. Maybe one of the few worthwhile projects the Tri-Lambs put their minds to, the initial cleaning of their house is fully explored to full-on 80s muzak.
Snow White. I’ve got to give credit to Disney: though a cynic might wince at the amount of cleaning a Disney female encounters, even in her “adventures,” they do try to make it appealing. Still, why not have the prince show up during this scene to pitch in? Now, THAT would be romantic.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This scene, though short, is one of my favorites of all the Harry Potter films; this is the superpower I would pick, BTW. And before you laugh, think about how much money I could command as a professional organizer or cleaner!
Go to Youtube to watch the scene (embed code was disabled).
Overboard. The copyright Gods have apparently smote any cleaning clips from YouTube, but anyone who has watched this movie will likely recall the cleaning binge that Annie (Joanna – played by Goldie Hawn) undertakes to the tune of Black Oak Arkansas’s “Jim Dandy to the Rescue.”
Honorable mention: Under the Tuscan Sun
Though it’s hard to pinpoint a particular scene in this film, the slow but wholly transformative changes to the villa are unmistakable and a joy to watch, particularly if you love gardens, sunshine and dust removal in general.
Unhonorable mention: Pulp Fiction
If you can stomach the site of brains being cleaned out of the back of a car, there can be no substitute for this thorough, if unpleasantly memorable, cleaning scene. For emergency use only, and if you do use it, please don’t tell me in case the cops ever ask me anything.
Do you have any favorite cleaning scenes? Which have I forgotten?
With a Spring (clean) in my step,
Those are gooooood! Overboard and Snow White were the two that popped up immediately for me. I even like Ghostbusters 2, where Murray walks in his flat and groans, “She cleeeeaned”, and then gives the lecture of how there are many LEVELS of dirty laundry. HAHAHA!
I don’t know why but Miyazaki movies have several cleaning scenes that would fit your qualifications! I wonder if Miyazaki himself is a messy person…
Good ones include:
Howl’s Moving Castle – Sophie cleans Howl’s Moving Castle
Spirited Away – The “stink” spirit comes to visit
I love Miyazaki! lol