The more you think about Spanglish, the more you realize and appreciate
the little subtleties laid throughout. It’s a wonderful little film
that can’t help but make you feel happily sad at the end.
John Clasky (Adam Sandler) is one of the best chefs in the world, which
has afforded he and his family a fairly upscale life. They have a large
house, a summer home in Malibu, and a drop-dead-gorgeous new housekeeper,
Flor (Paz Vega). John is also a devoted dad who has a way with his kids
(“you don’t have to get up yet, but are you thinking seriously
about it?”). Deborah (Tea Leoni) is his slightly neurotic wife who
quit her job to be a stay-at-home mom.
Flor has just emigrated from Mexico with her daughter, Cristina (Shelbie
Bruce), and does not speak a word of English. Naturally, she has trouble
communicating with the Claskys, but still can’t help but find herself
getting involved in their lives. Even though that goes against everything
she stands for.
Then, when her and her daughter are invited to move in with the Claskys,
Flor must do everything she can to protect Cristina from a well-meaning
American family that wants to make them feel welcome. And maybe she can
have an effect on their lives, too.
Written and directed by James L. Brooks (As Good As it Gets), Spanglish
is a delightfully witty romantic comedy (ish) that reeks of great dialogue
and fun characters. It runs 131 minutes long, but never feels like anything
close to that.
The thing that’ll get you about Spanglish is the message. In the
world of Spanglish, nobody’s perfect, and sometimes it takes another
imperfect soul to tell you what you’re doing wrong. Essentially,
it’s the kind of message parents everywhere spend years trying to
teach their kids (“the lessons of my life are coming in handy for
you now, aren’t they?”).
Adam Sandler gives his most reserved and possibly best performance in
a motion picture. He’s a good guy with a great heart who sometimes
gets emotional, but Sandler never overacts. Tea Leoni wonderfully plays
the mom with a few screws loose, while Cloris Leachman is a lot of fun
as Deborah’s alcoholic mother. The real star, however, is Vega,
who is not only stunningly beautiful, but also portrays the innocence
and maturity needed for her character. We’ll hopefully see more
of her in the future.
Spanglish may not be As Good As it Gets, but Brooks’s trademark
dialogue and feel-good story are present. More closed-minded individuals
may run for the hills rather than watch such a film, but hey, nobody’s
The movie didn’t do much in theatres, but the DVD is good enough.
The original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 is preserved here and presented
in anamorphic video that looks pretty sharp save for a few scenes rife
with grain. Overall color and detail is handled pretty well, hindered
by the occasional halo. Audio comes in Dolby Digital 5.1, and features
good separation between the front channels, and rear speakers that don’t
really do anything (which is fine, since the film is about dialogue).
Extras kick off with an audio commentary by Brooks and editors Richard
Marks and Tia Nolan, which features plenty of insight into the filmmaking
process and a bit of humor. There are also 12 deleted scenes (with or
without commentary) that would have had a major effect on the final film
and essentially made it worse. The HBO First Look is pretty standard,
casting sessions shows the kids auditioning for the film, and “How
to Make the World’s Greatest Sandwich…” gives the actual
recipe for the meal John Clasky makes in the movie.
Finally, we get the usual batch of trailers, as well.
Spanglish, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
131 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital
Starring Adam Sandler, Tea Leoni, Paz Vega, Cloris Leachman
Produced by James L. Brooks, Richard Sakai, Julie Ansell
Written and directed by James L. Brooks
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think