"Spanglish" is a great movie and its effects will be felt long after the credits have rolled. Don't let the presence of Adam Sandler fool you into thinking that it's another "Little Nicky" or "Waterboy". An atypical Hollywood movie that presents a reality without any glitzy CGI, dull characters or weak storylines, this comedy-drama is a gem What's more there are enough relevant themes and messages to turn this character-driven offering from director James L. Brooks ("Terms of Endearment", "As Good as It Gets") into an unexpected box-office hit.
"Spanglish" tells the story of Flo, played by the breathtakingly beautiful Paz Vega, who leaves her homeland of Mexico for greener pastures in the US. She wants to give her daughter, Cristina (Victoria Luna) a better life and so she becomes a housekeeper for a wealthy family, despite an amusing language barrier.
John (Adam Sandler) is a first-rate chef with dreams of having a more routine life or at least having an orgasm with his self-absorbed wife before she falls asleep. When his restaurant is up for assessment he desperately hopes for a bad review in order for business not to pick up. This, of course, does not happen and he ends up giving away 20% of the business to his head-chef, in order for his life to remain stable.
His wife Deborah, played by Tea Leoni, is a borderline neurotic with issues coming out of her ears and a warped view of reality. She insists on moulding everyone she knows into what she thinks they should be and at one point she buys her podgy daughter (Sarah Steele) clothes that are a size too small in a hope that it will give her the zest to lose weight. Her mother, played by Cloris Leachman, a former jazz singer, lives with them and lights up the screen with alcohol-driven comedy that provides much laughter.
When the family rents a beach house in Malibu for the summer Deborah insists that Flo comes with them. After much language confusion and translation, courtesy of an over-eager neighbour, Flo decides to go with them and bring her daughter along. Deborah is floored by Cristina's beauty and intelligence and soon starts 'moulding' her. She takes her to get her hair done without Flo's knowledge and decides that she should also attend her daughter's private school.
Soon the screen comes alive in an almost unbelievable verbal war in Spanish and English between John and Flo with Cristina as the translator. Flo is torn between wanting give her daughter the best, and her dislike for Deborah's manipulation.
Then John and Flo find they have a connection due to their shared views being the polar opposite of Deborah's way of doing things. In one of the sweetest moments in the movie John cooks dinner for Flo at his restaurant after fleeing from Deborah's admission of her infidelity with a real estate agent, played by Thomas Haden Church. But both John and Flo know that they are not capable of ruining both families and choose to let things be.
It takes Deborah's now sober mother to whip her back into reality with Flo having rescued her daughter and herself from a life that was not tailor-made to suit their open hearts.
"Spanglish" is a movie that draws you into each character and it is evident that that much time was given to mould each one of them into strong personas. The outcome is a not to be missed movie which provides many funny and true to life moments.
- Lamese Abrahams
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