Spanglish

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Spanglish
Review (8/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)


Spanglish stars Paz Vega as Flor, a single mother from Mexico who packs up a couple of suitcases and, along with her daugher Cristina (who narrates parts of the movie), moves to Los Angeles to find a new life. Despite not being able to speak a word of English, Flor manages to land a job as a nanny for a rich L.A. family that features a father who moonlights as one of the top chefs in the entire country (Adam Sandler); a mother who is mentally unstable and not very supportive of her own family (Tea Leoni); a grandmother who, despite having a weakness for the bottle, is wiser than we are initially led to believe (Cloris Leachman); and two children - a son that we don't really get to know (Ian Hyland) and a daughter who feels neglected and persecuted by her own mother (Sarah Steele).

So along comes this beautiful nanny into the lives of this dysfunctional family and for the next two hours, we get to see the parents John and Deborah Clasky (Sandler and Leoni) interfering in the lives of Flor and Cristina and Flor interfering (and helping) in the lives of John and his family. We see relationships develop and others fall apart, we have some laughs and shed a few tears and what results is certainly one of the finest movies that will hit the theatres this holiday season and certainly a movie that will get some serious Oscar consideration in the months to come.

The first thing that stood out for me after seeing Spanglish was the performances of the entire cast, beginning with Paz Vega and Cloris Leachman, both of who might get that Oscar consideration I mentioned, and including Tea Leoni's performance as the obnoxious mother and wife and yes, even Adam Sandler, who comes through with the performance of a lifetime (at least for him). Hell, even the dog in the movie gives us one of the great performances by a dog in recent memory. Spanglish also features some very cute little scenes (the scene with the daughter's altered clothing comes to mind), many, many laughs (surprisingly the mother and the dog both manage to outshine Sandler in this department) and probably one of the oddest and most memorable orgasm scenes since Meg Ryan made movie history in When Harry Met Sally. And it doesn't hurt that Paz Vega is one of the most beautiful women to grace the screen this year (and looks shockingly similar to Penelope Cruz).

But before I sit here and make this movie seem like the greatest movie ever made, I have to point out that Spanglish does have its faults. There are characters, specifically the Clasky kids, who just sort of seem to disappear into the sunset as the movie goes on. Georgie, the son, does something really, really bad at one point, that upsets Deborah the mental patient, and we never really find out what he could have possibly done. He eventually just sort of disappears and we can just assume he was either kidnapped or he drowned in the ocean looking for coloured rocks for his dad. We never find out really why Deborah is so unstable and unhappy. Sandler really isn't in the movie as much as you would think (I don't think he even makes an appearance for the first twenty minutes). Although that may not be that bad of a development, I am curious as to why he is getting top billing in this movie. Politics, I suppose. I am also curious as to how a guy like Sandler could get not one but two beautiful women falling in love with his sorry ass. How? Someone please tell me! Politics, I suppose. And finally, the ending is one of those endings that just sort of leave you hanging, which is all fine and dandy, but I suppose this is about the fourth movie ending in the last month that I have seen like that and maybe I just needed some closure.

Nevertheless, despite its minor shortcomings and one enigma, Spanglish is still quite an entertaining movie for one and for all. It has laughs, it has many heartbreaking moments and it has some romance, although that could be debatable I suppose. It is a movie that, because of its many strong acting performances, should make a serious run at some awards this winter. I quite enjoyed Spanglish and I definitely will look for Paz Vega's beautiful smile to grace the big screen again in the near future.

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