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Spanglish More at IMDbPro »

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166 out of 242 people found the following review useful:

loved the movie and was pleasantly surprised

Author: sls3 from usa
14 December 2004

When I heard the title and learned that Adam Sandler was in this movie, I had very low expectations. Boy, was I surprised. This is a wonderful film, not at all the low-level fluff film I expected. All the female actresses, young and old, are absolutely terrific, and Adam Sandler does a respectable job in a semi-serious role. The writing is very clever, and the film will elicit laughter as well as tears. I found my self still thinking about the movie the next day, something that all too often doesn't happen with today's highly forgettable films. One caveat: this is really a movie for teens and up, not a kids' movie. Aside from a bad word or two and a (hilarious) sex scene, the underlying themes are quite adult. Enjoy!

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136 out of 206 people found the following review useful:

Spanglish is two movies in one

Author: seaview1
16 December 2004

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.

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101 out of 152 people found the following review useful:

Well worth seeing, way beyond a dumb-funny movie

Author: Carlos-160 from Puerto Rico
20 December 2004

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 !!

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104 out of 166 people found the following review useful:

Great Acting and Dialog

Author: chrisuab from Birmingham, AL
19 December 2004

I was looking forward to see this movie ever since I found out Jim Brooks was a part of it. Again, he shows us real life characters with dialog we can all relate to. Acting is superb in this movie! Adam Sandler plays a great passive, yet warm and sensitive character. I fell in love with Paz Vega's character, Flor. I applaud Jim Brook's decision to cast an actress, who like the character, does not speak any English. I feel it gave a deeper sense of reality to the film. I was also very impressed with Sarah Steele's performance as the overweight daughter, Bernice. Her smile lit up the screen! Do I think this is a great movie? Depends what you consider a great movie to be. It is NOT a movie in which the ending resolves all issues, neither does it make you think or reflect on your own life repeatedly after viewing it. However, it does make you laugh, cry, and lose yourself within the characters and situations for 2 hours. Those are the kind of movies I cherish and love to watch again, which is why I give this film a 9.

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62 out of 86 people found the following review useful:

A good maid is hard to find

Author: jotix100 from New York
13 November 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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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53 out of 70 people found the following review useful:


Author: princessariane from US
14 February 2006

This movie makes me cry every time. Perhaps the soundtrack does it's job, or the push-ins when the characters have their deep emotional revelations of the epitome of their personalities, but it's not what happens that makes me cry. It is the way the characters are relateable, not so much as the commonness of their ways, because they are very quirky almost to the extreme, but because there is a part of every person in each of them, or at least a part to strives to be. The language barrier just highlights the dialogue, as one watching tries to hear it from foreign ears and yet understands movements and emotions better than what is said. And that, I think, makes this movie perfect.

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83 out of 132 people found the following review useful:

Interesting Social Commentary - SPANGLISH?

Author: kvonnegut
30 December 2004

SPANGLISH - a term with negative connotation to numerous Spanish-Americans (or at least to the first generation or older immigrants).

As the title implies, the movie makes a very interesting and subtle social commentary about the Mexican American dynamics/contrast in society. Obviously as expected, the film illustrates a few stereotypes. For example, when Florrr's (played by Paz Vega) cousin, Cecilia hit the sliding glass door and her nose bled, the wife Deborah Clasky (played by Tia Leone) offered her money instead. It's sad but true in today's society.

But what make the film interesting are its subtleties. For instance the casting and the characters itself. The producers could have hired a blonde blue eyed male lead instead of Adam Sandler, but they did not. Why? Because Sandler's character (John Clasky) is an antithesis of the wife, Deborah Clasky. She's blonde blue eyed superficial, emotionally disturbed, patronizing, solipsistic, white housewife, who the writer ( Brooks )probably wants to portray as the epitome of everything that is bad about white people - or Americans for that matter (however exaggerated they portrayed her to be). You can empathize with the husband's character and Adam Sandler played it very well. It's interesting to note, the husbands character's last name is Clasky - possibly his ancestors were immigrants as well. And his character is portrayed as someone who "gets it", someone who understands Florrr - an immigrant mother who wants her daughter raised with her own values and integrity even though she is only a lowly servant to the Clasky's.

One of the interesting scenes in the film that I found very clever was the argument between Florrrr and John. It showed the two sides of the dynamic. While I was watching it I thought to myself, any other individual would immediately apologize and patronize the immigrant housemaid in the expense of goodwill. But I was surprised that Sandler's character actually called her a "hypocrite" instead, and she realized he has a point. Not to criticize her (it's probably what Deborah would have done) would be hypocritical as well. This is another social commentary that was written very well and cleverly portrayed in the film.

The acting is equally superb. You could just hate some of the characters specially the housewife and the daughter Cristina Moreno (played by Shelbie Bruce). You can just empathize with Adam Sandler's character and his daughter, Bernice. The only people amongst the Claskys that is very adult. The grandmother's character on the other hand (played by Cloris Leachman ) whose always drinking provides a respite to the insanity in the story and ironically always the unobtrusive and yet emphatic character despite how she lived her life. In the end she was the voice of reason for the wife.

Equally, the dialogue is worth mentioning. Interestingly, there are no subtitles on all the Spanish spoken dialogue but the audience can kind of get the gist of what's being said or argued. It can be distracting to some audiences but thankfully, Florrr's character learned to speak English in the second half of the film. Also, the Spanish without subtitles added a few good scenes in the film and added a positive credence to the title SPANGLISH. It illustrates how to write the quintessential part of the screenplay without making it too cliché.

Overall, I liked this film. If you can look at it in the same light as I saw the film, you would enjoy it too and find it cleverly written and directed. Otherwise, it could be a little slow and the dialogue can be a little bit distracting. It doesn't help some of it is in Spanish and Adam sandler's character cannot express himself very well verbally.

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69 out of 113 people found the following review useful:

El Norte of James L Brooks

Author: A.W Richmond ( from United States
26 April 2005

Gregory Nava's "El Norte" was a memorable journey into the Latino experience in white wealthy country. That masterpiece had a heartbreaking scene between the Latino maid and a washing machine. "Spanglish" merely hints to a similar moment between the Latino maid and a coffee machine. The "merely hinting" is at the heart of this painful comedy of manners. This is the journey of an observer not of someone who actually lived it. As a consequence he treats his own with an iron hand and the others with a romantic, heroic, fairy taleish sort of slant. Putting aside the potential seriousness of the story, the film is a moving, entertainment fantasy in the land of opulence and guilt. The borders here are not geographic but personal, the aliens are the natives. They become illegal in their own existence and step all over their own lives without noticing, trying to care, trying to be the best they can possibly be but without points of reference or enough substance for their acts to have any kind of real meaning. Tea Leoni gives a performance of such fearlessness that sometimes you feel she may jump out of the screen. Cloris Leachman is great as an alcoholic wise woman who doesn't want to be judged. Paz Vega represents the ideal Latin heroine in a wealthy American's story. She is beautiful and powerful and utterly unlikely. Adam Sandler is Adam Sandler and seems to stand passively between the blonder than blond world of his wife and the exotic gorgeousness world of his maid. I would like to know what happened to Paz and her daughter after leaving behind the chances to be or become like everyone else in the white wealthy country of make believe, or is that too much to ask.

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28 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

God Bless James L. Brooks

Author: gregorybnyc from United States
9 June 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

James L. Brooks has been giving us such splendid entertainment as a writer, as a producer, as a director for so many years now. I stayed away from SPANGLISH over the Christmas holidays because the reviews were less than mixed, and in a busy season, I made the mistake of thinking it probably wasn't very good. I'm no Adam Sandler fan either. Well I saw SPANGLISH last night and went on this site to read other comments about the film. Lots of you seemed to like the film, and so many of you had questions or thought the film was somehow incomplete:

Why would Flor, the housekeeper for the Clasky's give up here daughter's private school scholarship?

There's no way a gorgeous woman like Flor would be unmarried and working as a housekeeper in Beverly Hills.

Tea Leoni's character is bipolar.

The film tries to tackle too many story lines at once.

The proof of SPANGLISH's excellence is that everybody sees something different, and I think that's where its greatness is. I also think we'll be watching it for years to come with an ever-developing affection and cult-like devotion. I'm assuming you've read the plot line, so I'll just stick to the aspects of this movie which made it such a great experience for me.

Brooks' real talent is in giving us stories about people we care about, even after we've decided we don't like them. Shirley MacLaine's great performance in TERMS OF ENDEARMENT, and Jack Nicholson's in AS GOOD AS IT GETS are not nice people, nor are the three leads in BROADCAST NEWS very likable, but they grow on you. In SPANGLISH we enter the lives of a upwardly mobile Los Angeles couple, both driven by their work which makes them nuts, but too busy to get off the treadmill and smell the flowers.

Tea Leoni 's Deborah is a character who is very neurotic, controlling, arrogant, competitive, spoiled, bratty, cold, and all-too-human. Now a full-time house- mommy after being downsized by her company, she's feeling unfulfilled and dazed by being somehow reduced to motherhood. Leoni gives an incredibly brave performance, and you still don't like her in the end. Adam Sandler, putting aside his obnoxious screen schtick for a second, is totally believable as John, the sweetly hen-pecked and cuckolded husband, who is falling for Flor. Scared of his success as a first-rate chef, he's nearly paralyzed when his sous-chef announces he has the backing to leave and open his own place. But as usual, both husband and wife throw money at any situation that seems to threaten them. Cloris Leachman is back to remind us just what a superb character actress she is, and her wise and loving alcoholic grandmother who is indulged and ignored and condescended to by her daughter, ends up with some of the wisest advice she can give her daughter when the crisis of her marriage has to be faced in real terms and without her usual hysterics. Grandma has lots to atone for over her own neglect, and Leachman's character seems brave enough to put down the booze and face the music.

Paz Vega is a gorgeous woman and is radiant as Flor, the housekeeper. She's a wonderfully protective mother, and she gets totally caught up in her employer's dysfunctional family. The device of having her speaking only Spanish in the first half of the movie, and shyly testing her English in the second half really works as she is an expressive actress. I had no trouble reading her thoughts. All the kids are pitch-perfect, especially the young actress who plays the Clasky's daughter, Bernice. Crushed by her mother's never-subtle hints about her weight, there's a heartbreaking scene where her mother gives her shopping bags of new clothing, all of it too small to fit her.

Brooks doesn't offer any tidy answers here. His characters don't emerge "better"--they just are. Flor quits and takes her beloved daughter with her, away from Deborah, who acts like the only reason she helps to arrange a scholarship for her at her daughter's private school and showers her with gifts, is because Flor's child is really the kid she would prefer to have. And away from John because she knows there's no future for her. She's not a home-wrecker, and she wants to preserve her daughter's own identify, not become middle-class and Anglo. Many people would argue she's nuts to deny her daughter, including me. But I see Brooks' point. You know Deborah and John will probably not stay together. She's wound way too tight, and when her daughter goes through puberty, war will be declared in that household.

As much as I liked Sandler's warm and neurotically hen-pecked patriarch, he's way too passive-aggressive in his own house, colluding with his daughter to make up for her mother's insensitivity. Grandma may have put herself on the wagon to save her daughter's marriage, but there are issues between them from their past that need lots of healing. And what of the virtually ignored little brother?

A little messy, and hugely ambitious, SPANGLISH is a lot like life. Brooks is a great auteur, and here he offers no easy answers of solutions. He keeps giving us films with characters with depth that we recognize and care about. His is a great talent in an industry where humor and intelligence are in very short supply. I watched this film with a friend of mine who started to cry halfway through the picture and didn't stop.

SPANGLISH is going into my permanent DVD collection.

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71 out of 126 people found the following review useful:

pleasantly surprised

Author: from North Haven, CT
12 December 2004

I saw Spanglish Saturday night (12/11/04). It was a preview and I haven't seen any critical reviews yet. I liked it enough to give it a 8 out of 10. It's a comedy with enough serious moments to give a person time to pause and think. Young girl emigrates with her mom from Mexico and settles in California. Mom (being in America illegally) settles as a housekeeper for Sandler and Leoni. She's baffled by the monied existence of the upper classes and how it effects her daughter. I thought that Paz Vega is excellent as the mom. Adam Sandler holds back and plays a compassionate father. Cloris Leachman is great and should be nominated for a Best Supporting Actress. The revelation to me is Tea Leoni. I thought that she was great as the waspish/blond mom/wife who feels that she's not getting enough respect at home.

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