Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Cloris Leachman, Ta Leoni, Adam Sandler, Thomas Haden Church, Paz Vega
Director: James L. Brooks
Genre: Feature Film-Comedy Rating: PG13 Release Date: 20-MAY-2008 Media Type: DVD
A Mismarketed and Mislabeled Film That is Surprisingly Good
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 04/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When movie trailers come out months before the release of a film and movie billboards crowd the malls and other places trying to convince the public of what to expect (read 'how can we guarantee making the most money from the biggest crowd?'), it is difficult to get motivated to step over the hype and decide for yourself the merits and message of a little movie.
SPANGLISH used slapstick approach, beginning with focus on Adam Sandler of the superfluff/toilet mouth 'comedy' genre, to publicize this little story into a COMEDY. That was enough to keep this viewer out of the theater. But seeing James L. Brooks current opus at home without all the hoopla of the theater crowd resulted in a pleasant discovery: this is a well-written little drama, peppered with some comedy, that addresses a lot of issues about parenting, cross-ethnicity, living your dream vs skimming off the top, having loyalty to the inner self, the desperate need for communication in today's loud world, alcoholism, etc. Not the stuff for slapstick, nor is it treated that way.
John Clasky (Adam Sandler in a straight role that allows him to show substance over pratt falls) is a successful chef who is able to support his family with a home in Beverly Hills and a summer home at the beach (obviously Malibu). His wife Deborah (Tea Leoni in a wildly dysfunctional mother role which she handles well), in desperation for breathing room to pursue her lackluster life, hires a non-English speaking Latina maid Flor (Paz Vega) who has immigrated to the US with her young daughter Cristina (Shelbie Bruce, a amazingly bilingual young actress) to make a life for herself after her husband has left her. Deborah's daughter Bernice (Sarah Steele) is overweight and the victim of her mother's misconstrued attempts to correct her problem at the expense of acknowledging Bernice's self worth.
Though busy with his successful restaurant, John finds time to be a loving father, a husband who is as supportive of his wild wife as is possible, and who gradually finds in the new Flor a gentle, honest, compassionate/passionate human being that seems to be a soul mate. Things progress quickly: Flor learns English via language tapes on TV, Cristina moves in with the family when the move to Malibu occurs, Deborah dotes on the bright, attractive Cristina while ignoring her own daughter, Flor tends to the emotions of Bernice, and finally a marital crisis occurs which places into focus the idiosyncrasies of all members of the extended household (including Deborah's alcoholic mother - Cloris Leachman, as brilliant as ever).
The manner in which Brooks brings this chaos to closure does not sell out the way most stories do: there are no pat answers here but altered individual perceptions are suggested and we are given the opportunity to resolve them as we wish. Is this a comedy? No, though there are many cleverly funny lines and situations. This is a pertinent drama, unfortunately mislabeled in name and in media approach. For this reviewer this is a tender film about family needs and personal goals. The cast is excellent, each member taking risks that prove to be successful. Give it a try! Grady Harp, April 05"
My Big Fat Hispanic Wedding? Not quite, but still fun
Manny Hernandez | Bay Area, CA | 12/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I don't particularly love Adam Sandler's comedies. Fortunately, "Spanglish" is not one of them! It's more of a James L. Brooks movie. Once again, he writes, directs and produces, as he did with the classic "Terms of Endearment" back in 1983, and more recently, with "As Good as It Gets".
Sandler plays John Clasky, a renowned chef who is in the prime of his professional career. He's the classic "good guy", who loves his family and keeps a great balance between the time he devotes to work and the time with his kids. Plus he loves his insecure wife Deborah, played by Tea Leoni (Deep Impact, The Family Man), one wacky lady who has put her career on hold to raise her family.
Complementing the cast is Paz Vega, who broke into international stardom playing Lucia in "Sex and Lucia". She plays Flor (with rolled "R" at the end), a protective Mexican mom who wants to stay as close as possible to her native Mexican values, even while living in the heart of L.A., cleaning and cooking for the Clasky family.
While the plot does lead into some predictable events (don't mean to spoil the story for you), this is not your "typical" Adam Sandler movie. As a matter of fact, some of the most hilarious moments are not courtesy of the legend from "The Wedding Singer" and Saturday Night Live, but rather the result of the head-on encounter of two cultures, where no side can speak the other's language or easily understand each other's motivations.
With a balance between humor and drama that is preserved throughout most of the plot, the movie stands a good chance of being almost as popular as "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" was a back in 2002."
Wonderful Performances With Great Depth By All!
J. M WILINSKY | teaneck, NJ United States | 07/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Everyone in this movie gives an amazingly moving performance. Not only is it Adam Sandler's best performance(because he is not trying to be a fool!), but also Tea Leoni's. She shows herself to be a fine comedic actress with amazingly perfect timing. Also remarkable is Paz Vega, especially when you consider that she learned English in the movie along with the character she plays(life imitating art!). Even the children were perfectly convivncing. I hope you get a chance to see the deleted scenes, many of which should have been left in! Some of them are very funny, and some very touching. A simple way to state the lesson that this story eloquently expresses, is the difficulty people in families have in communicating with each other, whether they speak the same language or not. This is an excellent example of how it is possible for a perfect movie to come out of the great Hollywood machine! All fans of the independent style film will love this movie and it is a great family film, as well."
A masterpiece of subtle, gentle, hugely intelligent genius
Book Lover, | California | 02/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Another reviewer here calls the movie "an absolute work of art encapsulating the deepest and most significanty fundamental ideas of giving up that which we love, or which we yearn to become for the sake of our children." I agree. But I think it's about even more besides the mother/daughter, generational/cultural values tug-of-wars.
Spanglish "opens the serape" on glaring American manias and cruelties that we seem to have become blinded to: the driven, masculinized American white woman who has lost the power of feminity and unintentionally but inexorably torments herself and her family; the ethical and cultural dilemmas posed by the Grand Canyon socioeconomic divide between Anglos and Latinos. Especially in California, a Latino "underclass" props up every corner of the affluent middle-class lifestyle. Who cleans the sprawling houses, buses tables and washes dishes in restaurants, mows the lawn and tends the garden, builds the subdivions and strip malls? I could go on and on. It's a new caste system that whites, as top dogs, seem oblivious to.
Spanglish reveals all the messy realities with a compassionate eye, humor and visual gloss. Balancing on the tightrope between pure entertainment and profound human and social insight while making us laugh is what makes this a masterpiece. The movie's flaws, like it's characters, are ultimately forgiveable because they are so universally human. I buy few DVDs, but this will be one of them."