Flor Moreno, an impecunious single mother of one, emigrates to Los Angeles from Mexico in high hopes of creating a better life for her twelve-year-old daughter, Cristina. However, after landing a job as a housekeeper for the laid-back gourmet chef, John Clasky, and his well-to-do family, Flor will find herself up against a daunting language barrier, and Deborah, John's troubled wife. Little by little, as Flor struggles to start afresh, and of course, learn English, an inevitable cultural collision is at hand; moreover, a burgeoning romantic affection starts to take over. Will John and Flor ever bridge the linguistic divide?Written by
Though it was cut from the final version, it is revealed in the deleted scenes that Flor and Cristina came to the U.S. via a small plane flown by Flor's husband's friend who flirted with Flor during the plane ride. See more »
When Deborah is picked up by the businessman and he backs his Audi out of the driveway, there is no license plate on the car. In the next shot, it suddenly has one. See more »
[voiceover to scene of people reviewing applications]
To Dean of Admission, Princeton University. The most influential person in my life...
...is Mother Teresa, whose example helped me overcome the arrogance which threatened after my 1600 SAT score in National Merit Scholarship
Girl's Voice #2:
...most influential person taught me the most important word I've ever learned; Aloha, which I...
To the Dean of Admission, Princeton University, from Cristina Moreno. Most influential person, my Mother, No ...
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No actors were mistreated in the making of this film. See more »
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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