Don’t Need to
Understand the Language to Get the
by The Maven and
James L. Brooks’ pleasing drama/comedy Spanglish
grapples with issues that face many people who cross
national borders, including difficulties finding work,
the language barrier, and acclimating to a new culture.
The entire story is told in flashback via a college
admissions letter written by Cristina, portrayed by the
very talented newcomer Shelbie Bruce. Cristina is
explaining why her mother is her hero, and so we are
introduced to Flor (which she insists that you pronounce
it FLORRRRRRR), played by Paz Vega (from Spain) in her
first American film. Flor, a housekeeper and nanny,
wants to stay uninvolved with her employers and their
private lives, but finds herself drawn into the
dysfunctional drama of the Clasky household. The head of
the family John, played by Adam Sandler (Wedding Singer
and 50 First Dates), is a four-star, award-winning chef
who is reluctant to interfere with his wife's duties as
a full-time mother. Deborah Clasky, portrayed by Téa
Leoni (Family Man and married to hottie David Duchovny)
is an unaffectionate mother who is wound tighter than a
knot and about to untangle emotionally due to her
insecurities and lack of a career focus. In walks Flor,
who doesn't speak English and is everything Deborah is
not. She is warm, compassionate, and exotically
beautiful, with a gorgeous, thin, intelligent daughter.
Ultimately, Spanglish is about two culturally different
families living together, who discover that knowing
where you belong is more valuable than assimilating
could ever be.
The Blonde: Spanglish was
like Maid in Manhattan meets Frida meets Sabrina meets
Mommy Dearest meets Turning Point. I loved this film. It
was original, as its story angle has never been told in
that way before. It reminds us all that language can be
less of a barrier than the heart can be. I must inform
the men that if you are conned into seeing Spanglish
thinking that it is a typical funny Adam Sandler movie,
Spanglish truly is a 'chick flick' and you will probably
be bored. That could be a good thing though, because now
your lady WILL OWE YOU! The actress Paz Vega was
stunningly beautiful. She reminded me of a cross between
Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek. Her character, Flor,
displayed the rare combination of sexy, strong, moral,
honorable, intelligent, loving, determined and proud.
I've seen these qualities in the Blonde and the Maven,
but it's so rare in a Hollywood script.
Maven: First of all, how in the world do you relate
Frida to this film?
Blonde: SHE'S SPANISH?
Maven: Oh dear, that's a stretch at best, even for the
Blonde! I've waited several years for James Brooks to
come out with another good movie. Terms of Endearment
and As Good As it Gets are two of my favorites, and
Spanglish will be added to the list. He has a way with
entertaining conversation that allows you to get to know
the characters with words as well as awkward stretches
of silence. In this film, as in all his others, Brooks
proves he's a humanist as well as a humorist.
Blonde: The story, the dialogue and the breakdown of the
characters were exquisitely well written. You will find
yourself feeling for each one of the characters and long
for their happiness. The acting was brilliant as well.
Every single actor deserves an award. Each one had their
moment to shine; THEY DID and brightly. The title was
perfect as well. I loved the line Flor said to her
daughter: “You get one tear to cry, so make it a good
one.” I can't wait to use that on my little girl. She'll
look at me like I came from another planet.
Maven: Then you should be used to that look BY ME! Adam
Sandler does drama as well as he does comedy. He brought
emotional depth to the character of John. Téa took on a
real challenge with this role. Her character was all
over the emotional map and Téa played her beautifully.
This film definitely belongs to Paz Vega. She was
amazing. Penelope Cruz, WATCH OUT! You have some
real competition on your hands. I have to mention Sarah
Steele, who played Bernice Closky, a slightly
overweight, heart of gold teenager, who is delicious to
watch. The fractured relationship between her mother and
herself was so heart-wrenching to watch. How can a
parent be so clueless to a child's good qualities and
only focus on what she perceives as a negative?
Blonde: Well, for that answer, we would have to consult
with Joan Crawford. By the way, is Sarah Steele
Remmington Steele's daughter? I was happy to see Cloris
Leachman (Alex and Emma) have the opportunity to play
such a wonderful role, and she did it superbly. She had
the line of the movie when she said to her daughter,
“Lately your low self-esteem is just good common sense.”
As for Adam Sandler, he always plays the “sweetest guy
in the world.” It's funny, I don't want him to get
type-cast, yet I wouldn't accept him as the bad guy. The
two young daughters, played by Shelbie Bruce and Sarah
Steele, brought in HOME-RUN performances. You could feel
their emotions of joy and pain pouring right off the
screen. Unfortunately, we mothers get enough of that
stuff at home, especially when our kids hit puberty. By
the way Maven, when do the Martians who take our ONCE
perfect, now13-year-old, hormone raging, monster, kids
and return them home to us as their old, sweet,
wonderful, loving, normal selves? I hope I'm alive to
Maven: Yours were taken away? Stop your complaining. You
are SO lucky! They never took mine. I got passed
over. I guess I live too far west in Boca. I'm still
struggling with it daily. Remmington Steele is a
fictional television character played by Pierce Brosnan,
you BLONDE! I too was happy to see Cloris. What a
terrific performance she put in as Evelyn, Deborah's
mother. A small role was spotlighted by one of my
favorite actresses. Not since Phyllis on “Mary Tyler
Moore” has Cloris been given such a juicy tidbit to
portray. I would love to see more of her in the future.
In fact, I think this film would be a terrific sitcom.
Anyone at NBC looking to fill the empty time-slot since
“Friends” should take notice.
Blonde: It’s always enjoyable seeing Téa Leoni in a
film, but I gotta tell ya, if you need a role model for
the most over-the-top insensitive, selfish mother and
wife, then Deborah Clasky is your gal. Watching the way
she treated everyone involved, especially her daughter,
simply broke my heart. Ya know Maven, she reminded me of
all our friends’ mothers growing up.
Maven: You mean MY MOTHER, don't you?
Blonde: Well, her or Joan Crawford. I was trying
to be discreet.
Maven: Why start now?
Blonde: You're right! So why are you still using WIRE
Maven: Because it still makes her angry! In
closing, obviously I enjoyed this movie as did my
16-year-old daughter. I rate it an A for absolute joy.
Blonde: Spanglish was overwhelmingly realistic in an
unrealistic way. This film seemed so painfully real at
times that I felt as though I were spying on the
personal lives of these people. I have enough trouble
spying on my own family. Furthermore, I was blown away
by the brilliant writing that included serious
situations with a flare of comedy. The interaction among
the colorful characters as well as the deep situations
concerning the triangle of characters were poetic and
intriguing to watch. I rate Spanglish a B+. Now for
snacks, it might be a good idea to skip them all
together as the holidays are approaching and you might
want to save the calories for later.
Blonde and the Maven: To all our readers, WE WISH YOU A
VERY HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON AND A WONDERFUL AND HEALTHY
NEW YEAR! THANK YOU ALL FOR COMING TO US FOR YOUR MOVIE
ADVICE!! See you next year with a bucket of
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