Spanglish

Though the title would have been better suited to one of star Adam Sandler's trademark goofball comedies, writer-director James L. Brooks' serious comedy is closer in tone to his poignant, Oscar-nominated AS GOOD AS IT GETS (1997). Stunningly beautiful single mother Flor (Paz Vega), a Mexican immigrant in Los Angeles, is trying to make the best life possible...read more

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Reviewed by Angel Cohn
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Though the title would have been better suited to one of star Adam Sandler's trademark goofball comedies, writer-director James L. Brooks' serious comedy is closer in tone to his poignant, Oscar-nominated AS GOOD AS IT GETS (1997). Stunningly beautiful single mother Flor (Paz Vega), a Mexican immigrant in Los Angeles, is trying to make the best life possible for her young daughter, Cristina (Shelbie Bruce). After years of working two jobs, Flor realizes her daughter needs more of her attention, so even though she doesn't understand much English, she leaves the comfort of her Spanish-speaking neighborhood to become a housekeeper for the Clasky family, whose lavish home in a gated community epitomizes a certain insular Los Angeles affluence. Neurotic mother-of-two Deborah Clasky (Téa Leoni) is married to a celebrity chef, John (Sandler); their son, Georgie (Ian Hyland), is adorable but nearly forgotten, while daughter Bernice (Sarah Steele) is slightly overweight and seriously socially awkward. Deborah's mother Evelyn (Cloris Leachman) also lives with them; something of an accomplished singer in her day, she now drinks her troubles away. The overwhelmed Flor simply does her best to clean up and stay out of the way of a family that baffles her in ways that have nothing to do with language. While John is so devoted to his children that he's willing to give up a portion of his restaurant so he can spend more time at home with them, Deborah, recently downsized from her corporate job, is so out of touch with her own flesh and blood that she humiliates Bernice by purchasing too-small clothes as a weight-loss incentive. Unable to remain on the fringes, Flor quietly begins tackling the problems she can fix, like sneakily altering Bernice's wardrobe to fit. John notices and appreciates her efforts. But when the Claskys decide to take a summer place in Malibu and want Flor to live in, the gap between her Spanish and Deborah's English slang triggers a string of miscommunications that almost gets her fired. Flor reluctantly brings Cristina along to the beachside cottage, but begins to worry that her only child is changing for the worse under Deborah's overpowering influence. As the devoted dad — and straight man to Leoni's often shrill and over-the-top character — Sandler gets a chance to demonstrate the range first revealed in PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE (2002). But the true stars of this film are newcomers Vega and Bruce: Their bilingual and touching mother-daughter relationship is the centerpiece of this surprisingly heartfelt tale.

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  • Released: 2004
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Though the title would have been better suited to one of star Adam Sandler's trademark goofball comedies, writer-director James L. Brooks' serious comedy is closer in tone to his poignant, Oscar-nominated AS GOOD AS IT GETS (1997). Stunningly beautiful sin… (more)

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