Spanglish (2004) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • John Clasky is a devoted dad whose skills as a chef have offered his family a very upscale life, including a summer home in Malibu and a breathtaking new Mexican housekeeper, named Flor. She and her daughter Cristina have recently emigrated to L.A. from Mexico and are trying to find a better life. When they move in with the Claskys for the summer, Flor has to fight for her daughter's soul as she discovers that life in a new country is perilous!

  • Flor emigrates to Los Angeles from Mexico in hopes of finding a better life for her and her daughter, Cristina. Hired by the John and Deborah Clasky as their housekeeper, Flor contends with the language barrier, Cristina's budding femininity, and the eccentric Clasky's way of life.

  • A beautiful native Mexican woman becomes the housekeeper for the affluent, yet troubled, Clasky family. The result is a wittily perceptive collision of cultures and values, and a refreshingly honest look at such life-altering commitments as marriage, parenting and devotion to family.

  • When a Mexican mother and her daughter come to the United States, the mother, Flor Moreno, gets a job as a maid at the home of a successful chef John Clasky, his insecure wife Deborah, their two children, and Deborah's mother. Despite Flor's lack of an English language vocabulary, she tries the best she can to assist the Clasky family in more than just house cleaning matters. However, when Flor is forced to live with the family over the summer, she has no choice but to bring her daughter, Christina along. Deborah, much to Flor's disliking, treats Flor's daughter much like her own and at the same time she hurts the feelings of her own daughter, Bernice, as well as Flor. When John's dreams begin to unravel, he begins to feel like his whole world is coming down around him, but with the love of his children and with the help of Flor, he finds himself trying to get through it all. Flor's daughter Christina, through which this story is told in a college letter to Princeton University, serves as a translator for the beginning of the film, but after Flor breaks the communication bridge by learning to speak English, Christina must learn that things come and go in life, but family is the most important thing a person can have.

  • A woman and her daughter emigrate from Mexico for a better life in America, where they start working for a family where the patriarch is a newly celebrated chef with an insecure wife.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The film starts with Cristina Moreno applying to Princeton University. She tells the story of her childhood in her college essay. Flor Moreno (Paz Vega) is a poor, Mexican single mother who is hired as the housekeeper for John (Adam Sandler) and Deborah Clasky (Téa Leoni), their kids Bernice (Sarah Steele) and Georgie (Ian Hayland), and Deborah's alcoholic mother Evelyn Wright (Cloris Leachman), a rich American family in Los Angeles. John is head chef at a popular restaurant, Deborah is a former businesswoman turned stay-at-home mother, and Evelyn is a former jazz singer. Flor speaks very little English. She does not mention that she has a daughter, Cristina (Shelbie Bruce). John, Evelyn, Georgie and Bernice are very likeable; Deborah, however, is uptight, her behavior often upsetting both households. Summer comes and Flor is needed 24/7 at the Claskys' summer home. Unable to communicate well in English, Deborah finds a neighbor to interpret. Flor reveals that she is unable to maintain these hours because she has a daughter, so Cristina is invited to come stay with them. Cristina interprets for her mother. She impresses Deborah, who begins to treat her like a daughter, taking Cristina shopping, getting her hair done, enrolling her in a private school, and showing her more love than she does the sensitive Bernice. Flor becomes unhappy when it appears that Cristina is influenced by Deborah, in part because she wants Cristina to keep in touch with her Mexican roots and working-class values, and partly because Deborah is overstepping her bounds. Flor objects to Deborah's actions to John, who apologizes. Flor loses her temper when she finds out that John has given Cristina over $600 in cash for a minor task. She threatens to leave but John convinces her to stay for Cristina's sake. Flor begins to learn English so she can communicate better. She becomes closer to John, who is having difficulty with Deborah's self-centered behavior. The now-sober Evelyn realizes that her daughter is having an affair and that her marriage is in trouble. She pleads with Deborah to end the affair, telling her she'll never get another man as good as John. Deborah confesses to John that she cheated on him. John walks out and gives Flor a ride in his car. They go to his restaurant, where he cooks for Flor and they enjoy the "conversation of their lives," feeling love for one another. Flor quits and takes her daughter home, upsetting Cristina, who got along well with the Claskys. On their way home, she tells Cristina that she can't go to the private school anymore either, upsetting Cristina even more; she screams in the middle of the street that Flor can't do this to her and that her life is ruined. Flor loses patience with Cristina after she asks her mother for space. Flor explains to her daughter that she must answer the most important question of her life, at a very young age: "Is what you want for yourself to become someone very different than me?" Cristina considers this on their bus ride home, and they make up and embrace. The film ends with Cristina as an adult, years later, acknowledging that her life rests firmly and happily on the simple fact that she is her mother's daughter.

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