Action / Comedy / Drama / Romance


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Sarah Hyland as Sleepover Friend
Adam Sandler as John Clasky
Téa Leoni as Deborah Clasky
Paz Vega as Flor

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by seaview1 8 / 10

Spanglish is two movies in one

Adam Sandler returns to romantic comedy/drama in Spanglish, written and directed by James L. Brooks, who has fine tuned the genre with excellent scripts and sensitive acting (Terms of Endearment, As Good as It Gets). It doesn't quite measure up to his best work, but that's still saying something.

Deborah Clasky (Tea Leoni) hires a housekeeper/cook, Flor Moreno (Paz Vega), who doesn't speak English. Flor, a single mother, has a teenaged daughter, Cristina, and the two eventually move into a summer beach house with Leoni, her two kids, and husband, John Clasky (Adam Sandler), a world renowned chef. Deborah is a nervous, controlling type A personality, who has recently lost her job and begins to question her worth. Her subsequent actions such as lowering the self esteem of her overweight daughter, Bernice, and doting over Flor's daughter without mother's consent starts a sequence of events that pulls the two families apart and draw two frustrated, lonely people together, namely Sandler and Vega. They connect, of course, but what they do about it forms the focus of the storyline. At times this film thematically recalls classics like Roman Holiday or Brief Encounter.

The film begins in such a manner to make one think that it isn't anything special but builds its story and characters into solid foundations until you begin to care about what happens. This is almost two films thematically. There is the developing love story between Sandler and Vega, and there is also the story of Vega, the mother, and her daughter. This is not just a family torn apart or a budding, forbidden romance, it is also the core mother-daughter dynamic seen though the teenaged daughters and their respective mothers. The narrative from Cristina's point of view recalls I Remember Mama. And let us not forget the relationship of Deborah and her own mother (Cloris Leachman-a Brooks alumnus from The Mary Tyler Moore Show). The ending is a bit open ended for one storyline while the other is resolved quite nicely.

At times, the dialogue (a good portion is in Spanish and cleverly translated or communicated through context without subtitles) is crisp and sharp and other times, the story seems to tease without delivering and seemingly loses track until it gets reeled back by a brilliant line or two. Some of the situations seem a bit forced or going nowhere but Brooks has spoiled his audiences with his top flight writing over the years. It is remarkable that he can show lesser filmmakers how to write and construct a superior screenplay about people that an audience cares about. He makes stories about people that matter.

Tea Leoni is good in her role as the neurotic housewife who becomes self absorbed. At times her character downright grates on the nerves, and you wonder how a man like Sandler's compassionate, loving husband/father, puts up with her behavior. Sandler does fine with his down-to-earth, dramatic role which contrasts with his quirky romantic in Punch Drunk Love. One wonders what a stronger persona like Brooks alumnus Jack Nicholson or even Tom Hanks would have done with his role. All the supporting roles are effective as usual. Leachman registers as the mother who consoles her adult daughter and is the voice of reason despite being the family alcoholic. Even the family dog becomes a small but noteworthy supporting character. There is also an amusing cameo by Thomas Haden Church who plays a character not unlike his more substantial role in Sideways.

Production values are strong across the board particularly in the cinematography by John Seale. But it's really all about the writing and the acting. The film feels like it wants to be something more but settles for the quality of a moderate Brooks film like Broadcast News. The film will elicit laughs and some tears but it is consistently engaging. Wouldn't it be nice if more films could even reach that level of writing and acting? Is this a great film? No. It is merely a well written story, and that's pretty good on its own.

Reviewed by Carlos-160 10 / 10

Well worth seeing, way beyond a dumb-funny movie

I was very surprised by this movie. Amidst the well written comedy scenes, there are many LIFE-IMPACTING conversations. If you pay attention to this movie, I think you will learn something about yourself, about cultural differences, about Responsibility....All while having a good time and a few laughs. Go see it. I think Paz Vega is a stand-out in her first big Hollywood appearance. Adam Sandler is good, and he certainly could deliver more emotion. Mrs. Leoni overacts and becomes quite bothersome (which I think IS the point!). There is something for everyone here. The daughter does a super-fine acting job, and she is clearly headed into bigger roles. She delivers some subtle scenes of conflicting emotions. Go see it !!

Reviewed by jotix100 8 / 10

A good maid is hard to find

Rich people, sometimes, feel guilty about the domestic help they must have to keep their lives in order, which seems to be what's the problem at heart in this story. In fact, some employers like Deborah go to extremes in trying to be nice to a gem she has found in Flor Moreno, the Mexican maid that speaks no English, but who has endeared herself to everyone in the household.

Deborah, a high strung neurotic woman, solves all her problems with money. Flor, on the other hand, has her feet well planted on the ground and has to be careful with her money. In fact, the problems between Deb, the employer, and Flor, the maid, come to a head when the family goes to spend their summer at a Malibu rental. It's inconvenient for Flor to go by bus, and because she has a daughter, Cristina, who she will not part with for all the money in the world. Deborah's solution is to invite Cristina, the maid's daughter to come to stay at the beach.

James L. Brooks, the writer/director of "Spanglish", shows why he is one of the top people working in movies today with this tale about class difference. We are given two strong women, Deborah, who is an unhappy person, and Flor, a woman from another culture, but one with a clear sense of what's right and wrong, with a tremendous sense of who she is and a devotion to her daughter, who she feels is being spoiled by her employer.

There's another problem in the Clasky's household. John Clasky, the head of the house is a noted chef who is completely taken for granted by Deborah. John goes along with the situation, but he has no clue as to what his wife has been doing behind his back, getting into an affair with the real estate man. Deborah completely neglects her sensitive daughter Bernice, who is overweight because of the unhappiness in her house. Also, Deborah's mother Evelyn has a drinking problem. Flor, the maid, a woman with limited education, has more common sense in dealing with all the members of the Clasky's household than Deborah.

Paz Vega, as Flor Moreno, makes a splash with her portrayal of the maid. In fact, Ms. Vega hardly speaks any English, but one doesn't even seem to notice. It's to Paz Vega's credit, making her American debut, that she steals the film from the stars of the film. This actress makes the viewer root for Flor in her efforts to save her own daughter from the excesses she sees in the Claskys.

Tea Leoni plays Deborah Clasky. Ms. Leoni gives a good performance as this confused woman who, in wanting to please her maid, irritates her by exposing young Cristina into things out of her league. Adam Sandler is good also in this more dramatic role that probably his fans will not like, but in fact, it makes perfect sense.

Young Sarah Steele is another surprise in the movie. As Berenice, the plump daughter of the Claskys, she promises to have a natural sense about acting. Cloris Leachman is Evelyn, a former jazz singer who drinks too much. Shelbie Bruce is also good as Cristina.

"Spanglish" is worth taking a look into because the situation it presents is real and Mr. Brooks inspired direction and writing.

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