Saturday, 19 September 2020
Monday, 13 December 2004 13:59

"Spanglish" not quite "As Good As It Gets"

Written and directed by James L. Brooks ("As Good As It Gets") "Spanglish" is a story of love and tough love in the lives of a Mexican mother and her young daughter.

Flor (gracefully played by Paz Vega "Sex and Lucia") is a young mother who border hops to the US with her daughter in tow to create a better life. They wind up in LA where Flor eventually takes a full time job working for the wealthy family of renowned chef, John Clasky (Adam Sandler "The Wedding Singer"). The real head of the family, however is his maladjusted wife (Téa Leoni) who eventually drives Flor and John to become closer than anyone had intended.

This film is an entertaining bit of Hollywood drama, but suffers from a few issues that hurt it. I think the major issue for me was the cheesy narration in the form of a scholarship application by Christina, Flor's daughter. If it is going to be narrated by the daughter, shouldn't it be told through the eyes of the daughter? Instead, Christina is barely a factor until about half-way through the film.

The performances were good by all of the actors. I especially enjoyed Cloris Leachman as an alcoholic grandmother. Adam Sandler handles his more serious roles quite well, being a sort of "Everyman". A bit of the familiar Sandler whine creeps into his tear jerker scenes, but overall he gives a solid performance. Téa Leoni, whom I already love to hate, is even more unlikeable than usual. Lucky for her, this time it's intentional! She plays a character who is her own worst enemy.

The kids sort of dissapear and reappear in a strange way throughout the movie, which makes me wonder how many of their scenes were cut. Most noticeable is the loveable Sarah Steele, who plays Sandler's unpopular daughter. Unfortunately she is not given enough screen time, and the issues of her character are never really resolved.

Kudos to the filmmakers for allowing the ending to be unconventional, and a little more realistic. No white horses and happily-ever-afters.

To wrap this up, I think that most viewers will be happy with this movie. Some decent entertainment that falls onto middle ground. Don't delve too deeply though, because the loose ends will drive you nuts.

If "Spanglish" speaks to you, try out "As Good As It Gets" which is a superior film by the same director.