Adam Sandler, Téa Leoni, Paz Vega, Cloris Leachman, Shelbie Bruce, Sarah Steele, Ian Hyland and Cecilia Suárez

James L. Brooks

Running Time:
130 mins

"You don't speak any English?"

Fleeing from Mexico, Flor (Vega) and her daughter Cristina (Bruce) try and make a life for themselves in USA. After living there for six years, Cristina is growing up and Flor needs more money to give her the life she deserves. Her cousin Monica (Suárez) arranges an interview for her with the Clasky's, to be their maid. Even though Flor gets the job she finds that not speaking any English is not the only problem she will come up against.

Writer/director James L. Brooks has an excellent comedic pedigree but can 'Spanglish' keep up his reputation?

After the success of 'Teams of Endearment', 'Broadcast News' and 'As Good As It Gets', anticipation for the next film by Brooks was always going to be high but 'Spanglish' is a disappointment compared to that illustrious three. The film just doesn't have the characters or storyline to keep you engaged for duration of the movie.

The language barrier has many opportunities for comedy, as differences and similarities between different cultures can be a hotbed for comedy but the movie doesn't really push these to their full potential. While no one was ever going to expect any racist jokes from Brooks, you do expect the odd few plays on cultural diversity, not from the Mexican character's standpoint but as she enters into the strange world of white America in Los Angeles. Brooks does create a slightly dysfunctional family but none of their problems are anything we haven't seen before.

The Clasky's are your stereotypical rich family that has graced many a film. You have a neurotic wife, Deborah (played by the underrated Téa Leoni) who thinks everything and everyone is against her as she tries to make her life and everyone's around her perfect. You have a slightly overweight and under confident daughter, Bernice (played by newcomer Sarah Steele) who just needs someone to believe in her to make her better about herself. You have a son Georgie, who is slightly kooky and a Grandmother, Evelyn (played wonderfully by Cloris Leachman, providing most of the laughs) who is your typical ex-show business type with a drinking problem. Finally you have the head of the household, John (played by a very restrained Adam Sandler) an internationally renowned chef and an all around nice guy who is continually dumped upon by his wife, making you wonder why they are still together. A colourful collection of characters you may think but there is absolutely nothing new here to pull you into their world.

Brooks wisely makes these secondary characters however and the film comes from the prospective of Cristina. Narrated from an essay that accompanies Cristina's application to Princeton University, the film outlines the daughter's respect and love for what her mother has achieved since moving from Mexico to USA. She tells us about growing up within the Hispanic community for six years and then how her and her mother became involved with the Clasky's. The pair then becomes the driving force of the movie with the dysfunctional Clasky's trying to drag them into their very small problems. Both Paz Vega and Shelbie Bruce are excellent as Flor and the older Cristina as we follow them into this new world but Brooks concentrates too much on the language barrier more than the culture differences angle to create his laughs. While the exchanges between Flor and the family, with Cristina interpreting are entertaining, this becomes a one-joke movie that really doesn't even push that to its full potential.

Fans of James L. Brooks would have been expecting a lot from 'Spanglish' but what they get is a movie were nothing much happens. With only a few laughs and far too much melodrama, the movie just isn't as entertaining as it should have been, especially with the cast involved. In fact it is their performances alone that stop it from been a complete disaster. This is not a film about the language barrier but a barrier to comedy.


Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, the movie is presented well.


Commentary from James L. Brooks, Mark Richards and Tia Nolan
The director and his two editors come together to talk about bringing 'Spanglish' to the silver screen. The trio discuss how they approached the movie, mentioning their decision to not to have subtitles for Flor and how this affected the telling of the story. They also chat about the characters and the casting process, revealing how they found each actor for the roles and how long it took them to find the child actors. The main emphasis of the track, as you expect is the editorial decisions and this gives the commentary a slightly different approach than the usual patting on the back type, making it a much better listen

Additional Scenes (30.47 mins)
A collection of twelve additional or extended scenes with optional commentary by director James L. Brooks and editors Mark Richards and Tia Nolan. The trio explain why the scenes were removed from the final cut, talk about the performances from the actors and how difficult it was to remove them.

HBO First Look: The Making of 'Spanglish' (13.02 mins)
Writer/director James L. Brooks and stars Adam Sandler, Téa Leoni, Cloris Leachman, Shelbie Bruce, Cecilia Suárez, Paz Vega and Sarah Steele talk about bringing 'Spanglish' to the silver screen. The group talk about the characters with the writer/director revealing secrets about the casting process and the actual language problems that occurred on set with Paz Vega actually mirroring her character by learning English as the film progressed. This is your usually backslapping featurette that really doesn't reveal much about the creative process behind the film.

How to make the world's greatest sandwich featuring Thomas Keller (4.12 mins)
This featurette takes you behind the scenes of Adam Sandler's chef training as he learns to make the world's best BLT for a scene in the movie. Famed chef Thomas Keller also gives you the recipe to this appetising snack.

Casting Sessions (4.24 mins)
With optional commentary from director James L. Brooks and editors Mark Richards and Tia Nolan, watch the casting sessions for Victoria Luna (young Cristina), Shelbie Bruce (older Cristina), Sarah Steele (Bernice) and Paz Vega (Flor).


A decidingly average movie gets an above average DVD treatment. The commentary track is good, as are the deleted scenes. The making of featurette doesn't revel much but the recipe for the world's greatest sandwich more than makes up for this. Fans of the film will be pleased at the content.

As Good As It Gets

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