Dan Goldwasser Movie Reviews

Went to see Spanglish tonight with BigSheb. This latest drama from James L. Brooks (As Good As It Gets, Terms of Endearment) was screened at the Holden Theater on the Sony Lot. This theater was basically a mixing stage, with a lot of seats. It must have been new; it looked fresh. But the coolest thing about the room was the fake skylight with clouds and stars, setup to look like a 24-hour cycle with an integrated lightshow. It was awesome!

The movie is about a Mexican woman, Flor (Paz Vega) who speaks no English, but gets a job working as a housekeeper for the Clasky family. She is doing it for her young daughter, so she can have a better life, and the film is told to us through the POV of the daughter – via narration of her college essay from her application to Princeton University. The Clasky family is the model of dysfunction. Deborah (Téa Leoni) was a fulltime designer, but now stays at home with the kids since she’s been “downsized”. Her relationship with them is at best, non-existant. She’s not happy with the weight of her daughter Bernice, and her son spends most of his time talking with his grandmother (Cloris Leachman), a former singer from the “old days”. The husband, John (Adam Sandler) is a chef whose restaurant just got a four-star rating by the Times, thus making him an instant celebrity. But he and his wife have problems communicating.

Thus enters Flor, who tries to make things better, without being able to speak English, but when her daughter starts to get too involved with the family, well, that’s just not right. Things start to get a bit tense, and John’s marriage starts to fall apart when Deborah starts having an affair.

The flick was weird. It’s a drama, and sure there are some funny moments, but I was never really sure where it was going. I didn’t really feel for any of the characters, and most of the conflict on screen came from Deborah being a bitch, or Flor being overprotective. In the end, I completely and utterly disagree with what Flor did (you’ll have to see it to understand), but I think that comes from the cultural differences between me and someone from Mexico. (Free scholarships are GOOD!! Sheesh!)

Hans Zimmer’s score was entertaining but ultimately forgettable, like much of the film. In the time the film finished, almost every plot point or character development arc was abandoned or left unended. The result was a movie which had some good moments, and a nice (albeit singular) message, but left me feeling hollow and confused – and very unfulfilled.