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Spanglish (2004)

Cast: Adam Sandler, Adam Sandler, Téa Leoni, more...
Director: James L. Brooks, James L. Brooks
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Columbia TriStar
Genre: SNL Alums
Running Time: 131 min.
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, French
    see additional details...

A Hispanic woman and her young daughter are thrown into the middle of a well-to-do but remarkably dysfunctional family in this comedy-drama from writer and director James L. Brooks. Flor (Paz Vega) is a single mother who has struggled to support her daughter Cristina (Shelbie Bruce) working as a domestic in Mexico. Hoping to give her daughter greater financial security, Flor packs up their belongings and moves the family to California, but Flor refuses to surrender her Latino identity and opts not to learn English; meanwhile, Cristina quickly learns to speak the language fluently. Flor lands a high-paying job working as a housekeeper for Deborah Clasky (Tea Leoni); Deborah doesn't speak a word of Spanish, but this is hardly the most curious thing about their working relationship. A deeply troubled neurotic who has spent time in a mental hospital, Deborah is at once obsessed with her duties as a wife and mother and utterly clueless to her family's needs, and when she learns that Flor has a daughter, she insists that the girl move in with the Claskys. However, Flor isn't so sure she wants Deborah Americanizing Cristina, especially when Deborah begins doting on the girl at the expense of her relationship with her own daughter Bernice (Sarah Steele). Deborah's husband John (Adam Sandler) is an oasis of loving calm and understanding in the midst of his chaotic family, and Flor becomes attracted to this man who shows no signs of the arrogant machismo she's accustomed to. But John's career as a chef is turned upside down when the New York Times gives his restaurant a four-star review, suddenly turning his small eatery into the "in" spot in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Flor reaches the end of her patience when Deborah enrolls Cristina into an exclusive private school which Flor is certain will turn her into a typical American child, and drive a wedge between Cristina and her mother. Spanglish also stars Cloris Leachman as Deborah's sharp-tongued mother. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Flor should get the guy! by TnJWilson May 31, 2005 - 12:35 PM PDT
2 out of 4 members found this review helpful
If you're like me, you'll enjoy this movie, but it'll leave you feeling a little jilted.

Paz Vega (Flor) and Adam Sandler create such a great relationship in this movie. And in the end we're left to believe that she simply walks away and that he goes back to his cheating, cold, emotionally vacant, and verbally abusive wife? For what?

The message I think we're supposed to get is that Tea Leoni's character is actually changing. But it is too little too late and ends up unbelievable. The only place they show a change is in her desire to atone with Sandler. But what about how she ignores her son? What about how mean she treats her daughter? And Sandler is supposed to have changed to be more agressive with what HE wants. But goes willfully back to his wife? I just don't buy it.

Instead, the message that comes across is that Sandler and Leoni should stay together "for the children." And I've personally known too many families that did this and it was more traumatic than if they'd separated.

Maybe having Vega and Sandler get together seemed too much like a Nora Ephron movie. But in the end, that at least would've turned this into a good date movie.

Still had many funny and touching moments. And overall, still a good movie mostly because Vega is a supurb actor and I hope to see her in many more films. I just think this could've been taken from a 7 up to an 8 or 9.

Integration (of all kinds) by talltale April 3, 2005 - 8:37 AM PDT
7 out of 8 members found this review helpful
How come Tea Leoni didn't get a Best Actress nomination for SPANGLISH? Her fearless performance--as real and moving as it is funny--is right up there with the work of Imelda Staunton, Hillary Swank and the other nominees. Was the movie too subtle for most of our critics to "get"? Have they completely embraced nasty satire over gentle probing? Did Adam Sandler's performance (his best by a light year) confuse audience who were expecting another loudmouth dumb-fest? Questions, questions.

Carp if you will that Paz Vega is a lot prettier than most maids (the movie cleverly acknowledges this at least twice); complain that the wee-hours scene at the restaurant should have ended differently (nonsense: this is the heart of the film and its lead characters); yes, it's a little long, but cutting it down would lessen its impact.

"Spanglish" covers culture, economics, family, education, sex, power, machismo and more, integrating it all into one immensely watchable whole. This may be James Brooks' best film, and that's saying a lot. Decades from now (if we're still here), when historians and movie-lovers wonder what life as like as America Hispaniard-ized, this will be one of the touchstones. Miss it at your peril.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.65)
75 Votes
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