Published Dec 01, 2004Judging by his track record, the world is better off when James L. Brooks gets behind the camera to direct a motion picture. Though only his fifth film in 21 years, Spanglish is well worth the seven-year wait since his Oscar hungry As Good As It Gets greedily took home awards for everybody. Also responsible for the screenplay, Brooks has constructed a heartfelt romantic dramedy that defies the restrictions of language through tough love.
Flor (Paz Vega) and her daughter sneak across the Mexican border and wind up in L.A., where she finds work as a housekeeping nanny for the Clasky family. There she finds difficulty, not just in dealing with a language barrier but with the family's emotional problems, largely caused by the oblivious and aggressive mom, Deborah (Téa Leoni). The dad, John (Adam Sandler), is at his wits end, trying to maintain some emotional stability when it comes to raising the two children and balancing his career as America's top chef. Flor becomes the godsend everyone needs, stepping in as a problem solver and shoulder to cry on, as well as an innocent temptation for John when Deborah's erratic behaviour pushes him away.
Brooks's story depicts two very different cultures that cannot mesh without one sacrificing its integrity. The script is phenomenally penned and filled with wistful intellect while aptly avoiding the use of subtitles. The actors are all very strong in their parts, though most notable are Cloris Leachman, as the loopy alcoholic, chanteuse grandmother, Evelyn and Sandler, as the struggling father.
Like Tom Hanks and even Jim Carrey, Sandler has proven himself as a talent more valuable than the flatulent, box office hording man-child he was of yore. Spanglish is a remarkably moving film that not only forces laughter and captures your heart but also confirms that Rob Schneider is no longer worthy of Sandler's cameos to save his films. (Sony)