Bomb Rating: 

Since 1997's "As Good as It Gets" writer/director James L. Brooks has been out of the directing game, so it's kind of hard to believe that "Spanglish" was the inspiration that brought him back. Did he suddenly become friends with his Mexican housekeeper and decide that he owed it to her to show everyone that illegal immigrants have feelings just like the rest of us?

One of the many annoying things about this film is that Brooks insists on avoiding subtitles when his main character, the beautiful Flor (Paz Vega), is speaking Spanish (Flor is stunningly beautiful because if she were fat and ugly, nobody would care about her feelings). So most of the audience is left in the dark just like John (Adam Sandler) and Deb Clasky (Téa Leoni), who hire her to be their housekeeper, then learn Flor has a daughter, Christina (Shelbie Bruce), only after they bully her into moving in with them. Eventually, however, Flor concludes that she must learn English -- a moment that's followed by a huge, collective sigh of relief from those in the audience who haven't already tried to drive their Coke straws straight into their brains.

While the film centers on Flor, it's largely about dysfunctional relationships, a concept that actress Téa Leoni apparently takes to mean that she has carte blanche to run around the film like a drunken Woody Allen. Deb's neuroses pour out of her like water out of a fire hose. She has low self-esteem. She barely acknowledges her daughter Bernice's (Sarah Steele) existence. She talks over everyone. It's a horribly acted and directed performance, devoid of nuance, that drags the movie right into the toilet. Brooks seems to realize this, so he casts Cloris Leachman as Deb's drunken mother to balance things and create humor when neurosis slides toward psychosis.

John Clasky is an award-winning chef who always seems to be weathering a storm. Unfortunately, Sandler plays him like a man whose testicles have receded into his body for protection. Mostly, Sandler just reverts to that dumb Adam Sandler look whenever anything is happening and the audience is supposed to accept it as complexity. Whatever depth of character Brooks is trying to achieve here is entirely undermined by Leoni's overacting, Sandler's underacting, and the touching-yet-revolting desire to make Flor the object of all that is good in the universe.

The film is told in flashback, through an admission essay the grown-up Christina submits to Princeton. This framing device is about as useless and annoying as Nicole Richie on "Jeopardy." I have a feeling this film is going to give me flashbacks for quite some time.

To spread the word about this Spanglish review on Twitter.

To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.

Like This Spanglish Review? Vote it Up.


Rate This Movie:

Average: 1 (2 votes)

Other Cranky Content You Might Enjoy

  • Albert Brooks is the poor man's Woody Allen.

  • This is a movie by director P.T.

  • Is it surprising to anyone that after a film starring Adam Sandler and Winona Ryder, I left feeling colossally ripped off?

75% want illegal immigration decreased

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

Posted: October 22nd, 2009 08:23 AM ET

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll indicates that nearly three-quarters of all Americans would like to see a decrease in the number of illegal immigrants in the country.

Seventy-three percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday morning called for a drop in the number of illegal immigrants, with 22 percent saying the number should remain the same and just 3 percent stating that there should be an increase in the number of illegal immigrants. That 73 percent figure is the highest number since CNN started asking this question four years ago.

According to the poll, 37 percent want to see all illegal immigrants deported, also the highest number since the questions was first asked in 2006, and another 23 percent say that the number of illegal immigrants in the country should be decreased significantly.

{;-) Dan in Miami

PS:  During times of high unemployment this kind of poll result should be expected.

PPS:  I am in favor of legal immigration.  No US citizenship for illegals!


Didn't realize the US could decide how many illegals to take in

FearlessFreep's picture

When immigration is outlawed, only outlaws will immigrate.


If they send back all the illegals

Coaster's picture

You'll have Miami all to yourself. 

If all the illegals were deported...

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

...the Miami hotels might have a problem finding enough workers.  The big agribusinesses around here definitely would.  The remedy for that would be to expand the existing guest worker programs.  If you did that it would be harder for big business to exploit their workers.

Dade county, where I live, is majority Hispanic.  75% of the people here speak a language other than English in their homes.  The vast majority of them are here legally. 

The Obama administration has decided to continue the Bush program that allowed local and state law enforcement to get involved in deporting illegals if they were criminals.   It is sometimes called the 287(g) program.  The feds don't have enough manpower to go after violent criminals who are in the country illegally.  The local cops do.  Theoretically this sounds like a good idea to me.  But the devil, as always, is in the details.  Some civil libertarians have accused local cops of using this program to do racial profiling. 

In Miami you have illegal immigrants from all over the world.  Realistically, however, most are Hispanic.

{;-) Dan in Miami

PS:  For practical and other reasons I would be against using the 287(g) program to go after illegals who have not committed violent crimes.  Not right now anyway.  For one thing there just aren't enough jail cells.


there isn't enough man power to deport all of em...

TMundo's picture have to fly each and every one of them back to there country, you can't just drop em at the boarder.  Airplanes and airlines cost money.  We don't have that kind of money.  We don't have the money to build a fence either.  One must seek the root of the problem.  Why do people from other countries want to come here so badly that they're willing to do it illegally?  Money I would assume.  So find a way to make their countries better by stepping in and doing something about the coruption.  For starters yoiu could state to these countries, "Hey! It's your people leaving to come to our country, do a better job of taking care of your own people so they won't want to leave.  Not by building your own fence, better your country so people won't want to come here."

Mundo makes a good point here.

HS's picture

I agree that if we wanna fix the (immigration) problem here, we first have to fix the problems in Mexico, etc.   I love Mexico, but I won't hold my breath for things to magically get better down there.


It's fairly cheap in the border states to deport someone

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

If you are a sheriff on the border with Mexico all you need is a bus to send the illegals back to Mexico.  If the illegals happen to be from, let's say, Central America then obviously that's going to require some airplane tickets.  I don't think deportation should be the main tool in reducing illegal immigration but it has to be one of them.

The best way is to start prosecuting employers who knowingly hire illegals.

The next best way is to expand guest worker programs, especially for farm workers.

The third best way is to guard the border.  Fences are not enough.  Manpower is required.

The fourth best way is to check our jails to see who is an illegal.  Deport them!

{;-) Dan in Miami

PS:  Some Mexicans who lived and worked in the USA have gone back to Mexico to try to improve it.  Good for them!

PPS:  Obama must stop saying there will be an amnesty and citizenship for illegals.  He is drawing more illegals into the country when he says things like that.


There's a simple solution to the illegal problem

Rajah's picture

Build dog food factories along the border. The profits made from all the free meat would easily pay for it. Besides a steady diet of hobo meat isn't good for Fido. If Fido's happy, America's happy!

A bad performance by Tea Leoni?

HS's picture

Gee, whodathunkit?

She's pretty easy on the eyes, but acting-wise, Meryl Streep she ain't.



Dallas drivers cited for not speaking English

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

DALLAS  —  Dallas police officers have improperly cited drivers for not being able to speak English 38 times in the past three years, Chief David Kunkle said Friday.

The discovery came after a woman was pulled over earlier this month for making an illegal U-turn and was given a ticket for being a "non-English speaking driver."

The police chief said the citations are disappointing for Dallas, a city where the Latinos make up 44 percent of the more than 1 million residents and nearly 45 percent speak a language other than English.

Kunkle said his department's computer system for citations has a pull-down menu that includes a law requiring drivers of commercial vehicles to speak English. The chief said he believes the federal law was misapplied to local drivers of private vehicles.,2933,569379,00.html?test=latestnews

{;-) Dan in Miami


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.