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Something (Everything) Got Lost in Translation

  • Nov 20, 2005
  • by
Pros: Some noteworthy performances.

Cons: See Review

The Bottom Line: In the final analysis Paz Vega was not enough to save this film for me.

I think Paz Vega is beautiful; ever since I watch her perform in Sex and Lucia I have been smitten. My wife on the other hand has a completely opposite opinion: she thinks that Ms. Vega is ugly, period, something to do with thick eyebrows and a clef chin. And because I think she is worthy of watching I decided to see Spanglish, Ms. Vega’s first made-for-America production. And while I enjoyed just watching Ms. Vega, I did not enjoy the movie she was in over-much because I could not understand half of what was going on.

Listening to a foreign language in a film is exasperating enough in a film when there are subtitles; listening to one without is just a total waste even if most of the film’s cast is speaking English. We humans not only communicate through the spoken word, but through inflections in the spoken word. A lot of times it is not what you say, but how you say it. My brain is trained to pick up subtleties in spoken English, not so in Spanish, and so there is a lot I feel I missed in Spanglish, like when did Ms. Vega’s character falls in love with Adam Sandler’s character and why? And that brings up another strike against this film; I do not like Adam Sandler. Maybe it’s his whinny, boyish voice, or perhaps it because he portrays every character the same, or perhaps it’s because he goofy looking and I absolutely do not buy him as a leading man of any sort, I just don’t like him. And in the end, I just didn’t like Spanglish.

The Story

Directed by Jerry Brooks who heretofore had only produced for television and movies (perhaps he should stick with what he knows), Spanglish stars Spanish born Paz Vega (Sex and Lucia, Talk to Her, The Other Side of the Bed) as an illegal Mexican immigrant Flor Moreno who settles in very brown Los Angles to raise her daughter after her husband leaves her (as if we are supposed to but that). In a slightly unorthodox twist that story is told in the form of a college admittance essay written by Flor’s daughter Christina (Shelbie Bruce) as she attempts to get into Princeton University.

As the essay unwinds we find the Flor is completely devoted to her daughter and when the latter takes an interest in boys and visa versa, Flor who works two jobs decides she needs to start working just one job in order to spend more time with and keep an eye on Christina. She ends up keeping house for John and Deborah Clasky, (Adam Sandler and Tea Leoni). The family also includes Deborah’s mother Evelyn (Cloris Leachman), and the Clasky’s two children, Bernice and Georgie (Sarah Steele and Ian Hyland).

The Clasky’s have a more then slightly askew relationship. Deborah is on the far side of neurotic about her weight and this is telling on her slightly chucky daughter. The couple is completely out of sync with each other as evidenced in one scene where Deborah has an orgasm while sitting astride John while both are completely clothed. Enough said.

Enter Flor, who is somehow supposed to bring something needed to the relationship between John and Deborah; I never saw it. There are a lot of isolated funny incidences throughout Spanglish, but there was no logical connection between them. I never got the sense that I was watching a whole film; rather I was watching a series of somewhat related shorts. And I am sorry, but we are supposed to but that Deborah would let a woman as beautiful as Flor into her life? Sorry I am not buying it.

Not that Spanglish was all bad, there were some noteworthy performances; for instance Sarah Steele was outstanding in her role as the slight homely, slightly chubby daughter whom her mother never connects with, and her father relate to. She is irresistibly cute, needy in almost ever scene. A shout-out must also go to Tea Leoni who plays the stereotypical White female with children, who is (overly) obsessed with her weight, supported by her husband, and is nonetheless not happy.

In the final analysis Paz Vega was not enough to save this film for me. Setting aside that fact that I could not understand a word she was say until the end, Spanglish just didn’t jell.


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More Spanglish reviews
review by . May 03, 2009
This is one of the more enjoyable movies I have seen in the past year! It focuses on a single Mexican mother (Flor), who is trying to raise her daughter by working two jobs. When she realizes that she needs to spend more time with her daughter, she talks to a friend about helping her find a job that pays at least the combined salary of her two jobs.     The friend takes her to the home of a wealthy couple to be a housekeeper/nanny. This is a major change for her because since …
review by . March 30, 2009
This unusual film is surprisingly entertaining, much more interesting than its advertising would suggest. The story is a familiar one, need vs. plenty, as a young mother and her daughter emigrate from Mexico, crossing the border illegally in hopes of a better life. Flor (Paz Vega) is hired to work as a domestic in a wealthy household, although she speaks not a word of English. John Clasky (Adam Sandler) is an award-winning chef, who provides a lifestyle for his wife, Deborah (Tea Leoni) and daughter …
About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #187
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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About this movie



Director: James L. Brooks
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Release Date: December 17, 2004
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: James L. Brooks
Runtime: 2hrs 10min
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