Spanglish – 3 Stars (Good)
Spanglish is a relationship movie with a surprise ending in which the two main characters in the movie actually do the right thing.
The plot is about a Mexican woman who emigrates to the United States with her daughter after a failed relationship in search of a better life. She becomes a housekeeper for a luxury family with some relationship problems and becomes emotionally involved with her husband.
The husband (Adam Sandler) and the housekeeper (Paz Vega) manage to almost lose him but do not act on their impulses, separating in the end and the husband returns to his dysfunctional wife (Tea Leoni) and their two children, and the housekeeper of keys moving on to another chapter of his life.
This is very different from Hollywood where the Tinsel Town filmmakers just can’t seem to get enough sex, violence, and obscenity in a movie like this with no regard for ethics, values, or morals.
Everyone who really matters in this movie is sentient, except for the wife (who should know better) and the housekeeper’s daughter (who is young and immature).
All you need to know about the cruel wife is that she buys her daughter new clothes that are two sizes too small as an incentive for her to lose weight. The daughter is overweight and unattractive, but she is also smart, sensitive, and funny. The wife then manages to fall into an illicit affair due to her insecurity and poor self-image.
The role of wife Deborah is so out of character that she is an amazing character involved in what is otherwise a good movie with some great messages. I credit Tea Leoni for taking on this despicable role and proving that you can blow an air gun in her ear and feel a constant breeze on the other side.
The husband, who becomes a famous chef, is sometimes empty, but he also shows some sensitivity, understanding, and compassion, while his wife is totally self-absorbed. I would watch this movie again and be further shaken by the wife’s character, activity and decision making.
It’s great to see Adam Sandler in a more serious acting effort than another goofy, stupid comedy like Punch-Drunk Love. Sandler may not be Hollywood’s answer to the next great actor, but he’s capable of more than just great comedy; we have to find out how much more.
Spanglish doesn’t benefit at all from its title, which comes from a combination of Spanish and English (the housekeeper in the film initially trusts her daughter to speak English because she can’t). In fact, there was a translator on set because Paz Vega didn’t speak English and James L. Brooks (the director) didn’t speak Spanish.
Unfortunately, the title seems cute and sophomore and doesn’t tell us anything about the nature of the movie or its message. The title, which could have helped build an audience for the film, does not induce any emotion or imagination. Spanglish won a couple of awards, but you won’t find any major nominations or Oscars here.
The film is written and directed by James L. Brooks, usually a recipe for a terrible movie, but Brooks has broken the mold.
Brooks may be the first writer/director I haven’t deliberately criticized because of a terrible product. He manages to tell a story worth watching and makes the characters seem more real and involved when it matters, instead of wasting footage with another meaningless sex scene to boost ratings.
Many Americans love sex, filth, and violence. If you don’t believe it, watch a movie, turn on your TV or play a video game (they do it because consumers almost demand it). Give Brooks credit for drawing the line and making the characters more important than any rating they can generate.
Copyright © 2006 Ed Bagley