Spanglish (2004)

Spanglish (2004)
Spanglish (2004) DVD / Blu-ray

By: Jenna Zine & Larry Crane (Six Pack) –

Flor (Paz Vega), an impoverished single mother, illegally emigrates from Mexico with her young daughter in hopes of finding a better life. She’s subsequently hired by a wealthy Los Angeles-based couple to be their housekeeper, personal assistant and babysitter while they summer in Malibu. Flor speaks very little English; her daughter acts as an interpreter to aid in navigating her employer’s luxurious world.

[Review contains spoilers.]

A Toast

The film opens at Princeton University, in their admissions office, with the voiceover of Flor’s now adult daughter, Cristina (Shelbie Bruce), describing their escape from Mexico and how she came to apply at the prestigious school.

She Said: This is an offensive premise.

He Said: What’s this about?

She Said: Adam Sandler falls in love with his Mexican maid.

He Said: Oh, my god – it’s going to be awful It’s already not making sense. How is that even possible only 15 minutes in?

flor & cristina 2

I hear James L. Brooks is really funny! I think this will help my career…

Beer Two

Flor’s friend arranges for her to take her place at the Clasky household. Flor is interviewed by the high-strung Deborah Clasky (Tea Leoni), during which she agrees to take the job… after negotiating a ridiculously low salary.

She Said: Is anyone that unhinged? They’re making Tea’s character into this insane caricature. And the salary is insulting.

He Said: Who wrote this shit?

She Said: James L. Brooks (who also directed). He’s clearly lost the plot.

He Said: This movie needs subtitles – as in he needs to explain why he wrote this. He’s out of his mind; he’s been around way too long. The script sounds like someone who’s been living as a millionaire since the ‘70s wrote it. He’s got no clue about real life and it shows.

She Said: Why would he waste his Simpsons goodwill on this dreck?

"Spanglish" Los Angeles Premiere - Red Carpet

This is what it looks like to promote a movie you’re embarrassed about. You’ll feel the same amount of enthusiasm (or less) if you choose to watch this flick.  [Photo Credit]

Beer Three

Flor’s job is going well. We know because adult Cristina’s voiceover tells us so. Meanwhile child Cristina is getting absorbed into the Clasky household as Deborah begins to favor her over her plain daughter, Bernice (Sarah Steele). Bernice seeks comfort from her father John (Adam Sandler) who, along with live-in grandmother Evelyn (Cloris Leachman), serves as a loving presence in the face of Deborah’s over-the-top insanity.

She Said: What must James think of women to create such a horrid character? Deborah is out of her fucking mind. You know what’s ironic? Adam Sandler has made better movies!

He Said: I know! At least his films can be fun. I’d rather watch That’s My Boy on a loop than this.

She Said: Is Deborah supposed to be manic-depressive? I do not understand why she is so nuts. All the characters are so black and white. Deborah is bad. John is good. The maid is honorable.

He Said: The voiceover of the daughter is so annoying. This has got to be one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.

She Said: What would be the fun in reviewing something decent?

He Said: I don’t know, but maybe we could try it sometime!

bernice and john

“Dad, I don’t like mom.”    “Don’t worry, honey – no one likes mom.” 

Beer Four

After their summer in Malibu, the family returns to “real” life in LA. Though John is busy as the celebrated head chef/owner of his award-winning restaurant, he still has time to seek out Flor for several hours on a daily basis. The two begin to fall in love. However, good guy John still needs to keep his wife happy, which leads to the most awkward post-jogging sex scene ever.

He Said: Man, Adam Sandler is sleepwalking through this.

She Said: And Tea’s acting like she took a bump of coke.

He Said: This is the dumbest sex scene I’ve ever seen.

She Said: The director obviously hates women. The orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally made more sense. And that took place in public.

He Said: This plot appears to be about rich motherfuckers proving what good people they can be, while the working classes are portrayed as noble saints with no needs. Did people actually see this film? I’m going to have to switch to 40s to get through this flick.

She Said: It’s a slog, for sure. If I wanted a mix of liberal self-effacement and self-congratulation, delivered with mixed messages wrapped in stale stereotypes, I’d just turn on NPR.

spanglish-crazy deborah

If this is James L. Brooks idea of sexy, I feel very scared for him. 

Beer Five

Flor and Deborah continue to compete for Cristina’s attention as cultural and maternal tensions clash. Meanwhile, Deborah remains oblivious to the romance brewing in her own home since she’s busy having an affair with her realtor (Thomas Haden Church, in a brief cameo).

She Said: God, even the music is pandering.

He Said: How is it that Sandler’s character works in the restaurant industry in LA, but doesn’t know any Spanish? Inconceivable. By the way, did you know James L. Brooks got kicked off the Sony lot? He lost the company so much money. How Do You Know? was the final straw.

She Said: It’s sad; he’s had an amazing career and he deserves better. But this movie is shit.

flor & cristina

You’ve got a nice ass, mom. I think you can take her. 

Beer Six

At the urging of Evelyn, Deborah finally confesses her infidelity to John. He storms off, with Flor in tow. They have a heartfelt talk at his restaurant, but decide not to pursue their relationship. Flor and Cristina leave the household and John returns home to repair his marriage.

He Said: I’m ready to move on from beer to cyanide. It’s so fucking tedious, horrific, insulting and… what else can I say?

She Said: That you hope there’s a sequel? Wah, wah!

He Said: How did it gross $55 million? This movie shouldn’t have even grossed $5.

She Said: Adam Sandler has a lot of fans – many are probably wildly pissed that they saw this film because of him.

He Said: Wait! This movie is 2 hours and 11 minutes? Fuck me! To think they spent $80 million and they forgot to hire an editor.  My only fear about reviewing this movie is that people might think, “There’s no way it can be this awful.” I’m worried they won’t believe us and that they’ll be tempted to check it out for themselves. I don’t want anyone to have to sit through this… ever.

adam sandler drinking

This is the only way we got through the film as well.


Six Pack

We endured it so you don’t have to! Do yourself a favor and skip this offensive, overly long peek into an entitled couple’s myopic existence.


Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time Deborah oversteps her boundaries with Flor’s daughter.

Take a Drink: every time Deborah goes on a frantic jog.

Take a Drink: every time you want to roll your eyes at John’s too good to be true sweetness, despite his shrew of a wife.

Do a Shot: if you want to beat your head against a wall by the end. (If you ignore our advice and decide to actually watch this movie in its entirety, that is. And if you’ve done that, help yourself to a full cocktail!)

About Jenna Zine

Jenna Zine is a writer, unashamed Bachelor franchise recapper & live-tweeter (@JennaZine1), drummer, and occasional standup comic. She's probably somewhere complaining about her bangs. Find more at


  1. Actually, I remember liking this movie quite a bit. Not as good as “As Good As It Gets”, but decent enough. The sex scene was pretty awkward, but I get the feeling that was the point – a kind of microcosm for their marriage and representation of each others overall personalities (wife being selfish up her own ass, husband being relatively kind).

    The college letter framing device wasn’t necessary, but the daughter narrating was fine. I enjoyed the bittersweet conclusion to Flor and John’s romance, and the conflicts caused by Deborah. I didn’t really understand what you two disliked about the movie outside of Tea Leoni’s sex skills. Perhaps this movie was oozing a level of sentimentality that rubbed you guys the wrong way, but I maintain that this is an example of good melodrama.

    • Hi Bill –

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments. There were a couple of things that bothered us: one being Deborah’s behavior, which was so ugly and over the top that it left little room for compassion. It was difficult for us to believe that John would stay with her, especially given his attraction to Flor (who seemed better suited for him). We also found it hard to deal with Brooks’ frame of reference, which felt pretty out of touch with the real world. And you’re right the tone/sentimentality wasn’t our speed.

      We try to keep Pillow Talk humor-based vs. a more traditional review, so it’s nice to have another frame of reference as we don’t want to do the film a disservice. Thanks for taking the time to read the review!

  2. I didn’t think the family as a whole was out of touch with reality, but definitely the mother is, and I think that is the point. She’s not only a character, but perhaps representative of wealthy white American culture. The subtext might not be as strong as it was in a movie like “Storytelling”, but there is something there worth exploring.

    Sure, it would’ve been very Hollywood for John to hook up with Flor, take his daughter and start a new family, but would it have been fair in the long run? Sometimes, the best road isn’t the easiest one…

    I just realized that I’m making the movie seem like an award contender, but I do feel there is more to it than tear jerky-sploitation.

  3. Those are great points, Bill! I still think Brooks painted a pretty bizarre picture with Tea’s character – but I can buy that she might’ve had a wider arc. I agree it would’ve wrapped up the ending to have John & Flor run off together. Sometimes that’s the easy answer. But sometimes people really do grow apart and find others that are better for them. Either way, it’s given me something to think about. I would still give it a six-pack. 😉 Thanks again for taking the time!

  4. I wanted to drown Tea Leoni in a shallow puddle.

  5. Who writes this shit???

  6. This must be one of those hateful racist Republican chat rooms, the tone was set when this person stressed on flor entering illegally to the country.

  7. ?

    Sometimes it helps getting past the first sentence before forming an opinion…

  8. Dying laughing. Movie Boozer staff is the shit.

  9. James L Brooks wrote the script (which I agree is pretty shitty) and thereby the scenes in which we’re commenting on. I looked up his political affiliation for you – he’s actually donated almost $200,000 to the Democratic party, so one can assume that’s the way he votes. I can’t vouch for his thoughts on racism, but I’ve got my bets hedged on “not.”

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