Spanglish (film)

Last updated

Spanglish poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James L. Brooks
Written byJames L. Brooks
Produced by
Narrated by Aimee Garcia
Cinematography John Seale
Edited by Richard Marks
Music by Hans Zimmer
Distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • December 17, 2004 (2004-12-17)
Running time
131 minutes [1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$80 million [2]
Box office$55 million [2]

Spanglish is a 2004 American romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by James L. Brooks and starring Adam Sandler, Téa Leoni, Paz Vega, and Cloris Leachman.


The film was released in the United States on December 17, 2004, by Columbia Pictures. It was a box office bomb, grossing $55 million worldwide on an $80 million production budget. [2] The film received mixed reviews from critics, with praise for the performances of Sandler and Vega, but criticism for the plot.


For Cristina Moreno's Princeton University application essay, she tells the story of a year from her childhood, and how it shaped the person she is today.

In 1992, Flor Moreno, a poor Mexican single mother moved to America seeking a better life for her and her daughter, Cristina. With two jobs, she still cannot pay the bills, so her cousin helps her get work as a housekeeper for the Claskys: John and Deborah, their children Bernice and Georgie, and Deborah's mother Evelyn Wright.

John is a chef and an easygoing family man. Deborah was a businesswoman, now a stay-at-home mother, and Evelyn is a quiet alcoholic. Uptight and neurotic, Deborah upsets everyone, psychologically abuses and body-shames Bernice, and bullies John, demanding he always back her up. John is torn between defending his kids' mental well-being, and his domineering wife.

Flor is soon expected to work and live with the Claskys over the summer. Desperate to keep Flor employed with them, Deborah invites Cristina to join them. Deborah becomes attached to the beautiful and personable Cristina, ignoring Bernice; Flor does not approve of the attention. John unwittingly angers Flor when he offers to pay the children a set amount for each bit of sea glass they find on the beach. Cristina earnestly searches for hours, earning $650 for her efforts. Flor and John argue, with Cristina as interpreter; Flor wants to leave because of the awkward family dynamic. He convinces her to stay, to Cristina's delight, and Flor starts an English course to better communicate with the Claskys.

When John's restaurant receives an amazing review, John begins worrying about the added pressure, while Deborah begins an affair. She enrolls Cristina in Bernice's private school, upsetting Flor, who wants Cristina to maintain her Mexican roots and working-class values. Flor feels Deborah is overstepping her bounds and voices her concerns to John, who tells her he empathizes as Bernice has no support from her own mother. Flor tries to build Bernice's self-confidence with small acts of kindness, especially when Deborah is harsh.

Summer ends and Cristina and Bernice attend their first day of school. That afternoon, Cristina is allowed to bring her school friends back to the Claskys' house; however, Bernice is not. Flor, who was not asked permission, is upset at the situation; Deborah tries to cover for Cristina. The now-sober Evelyn, knowing about her daughter's affair, warns Deborah that her marriage is in trouble. She pleads with Deborah to end the affair, telling her she will never get another man as good as John.

Deborah tells John about the affair, begging him to talk it out. However, a dejected John walks out, bumping into Flor. Giving her a ride, she announces she is quitting, and they go to his restaurant, where he cooks for her. They kiss and have a genuine, deep conversation, realizing they cannot have a relationship. A desperate Deborah continuously tries to contact John and blames Evelyn's failings as a parent for the way she is. They have a frank conversation during which they become closer.

The next day, Flor comes to take her daughter home and informs her that she quit her job, upsetting Cristina. As they are leaving, John tells Flor he will envy whoever ends up with her. On the way home, Flor further upsets Cristina after telling her she cannot attend the private school. Cristina screams in the street, accusing Flor of ruining her life. After she asks her mother for "space", Flor says she needs to answer an important question: "Is what you want for yourself to become someone very different than me?" Cristina considers this on their bus ride home, and they make up and embrace.



Brooks cast Sandler after seeing his more dramatic performance in Punch-Drunk Love . [3]

Vega could not speak English when filming began and a translator was on set during filming so that she could communicate with the director. [3]

Leachman replaced Anne Bancroft, who dropped out of the part after four weeks of shooting because of illness. [3]


Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 54% based on reviews from 168 of critics, with an average rating of 6/10. The critical consensus reads, "Paz Vega shines, and Adam Sandler gives a performance of thoughtfulness and depth, but Spanglish is ultimately undermined by sitcommy plotting and unearned uplift." [4] On Metacritic it has a score of 48% based on reviews from 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". [5] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "B+" on scale of A to F. [6]

Its proponents claim it is a moving portrayal of the difficulty of family problems and self-identity (and perhaps to a lesser extent the difficulties and rewards of cross-cultural communication). Advocates of the film found the intense sexual chemistry between Leoni and Sandler particularly compelling. Some critics described the film as "uneven", [7] "awkward," for example, when "John and Flor attempt to bare their souls to one another ... [with] lots of words coming out of their mouths, but there doesn't seem to be a context", [8] and "The supporting performers deserve better, especially ... Cloris Leachman, who's consigned to a demeaning role...[and] the butt of rather mean-spirited jokes." [9]


AARP Movies for Grownups Awards Best Intergenerational Film SpanglishNominated [10]
Best Screenwriter James L. Brooks Nominated
Best Actress Cloris Leachman Nominated
California on Location Awards Assistant Location Manager of the Year – Feature FilmsKei Rowan-YoungWon [11]
German Dubbing AwardsOutstanding Newcomer PerformancePatricia JahnWon
62nd Golden Globes Awards Best Original Score Hans Zimmer Nominated [12]
Imagen Foundation Awards Best PictureSpanglishNominated [13]
Best Director – FilmJames L. BrooksNominated
Best Actress – Film Paz Vega Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Film Shelbie Bruce Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society AwardsBreakout of the Year – On ScreenPaz VegaWon [14]
Best Performance by Youth in a Leading or Supporting Role – Female Sarah Steele Won
Satellite Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Comedy or Musical Cloris LeachmanNominated [15]
11th Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Cloris Leachman Nominated [16]
The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards Worst Actress Tea Leoni Nominated [17]
Worst On-Screen Couple Adam Sandler
Tea Leoni
Young Artist Awards Best Family Film – Comedy or MusicalSpanglishNominated [18]
Best Performance in a Feature Film – Young Actor Age Ten or YoungerIan Donovan HylandNominated
Best Performance in a Feature Film – Supporting Young ActressShelbie BruceNominated
Best Performance in a Feature Film – Supporting Young ActressSarah SteeleNominated

See also

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  2. 1 2 3 "Spanglish (2004)". Box Office Mojo . Retrieved August 30, 2009.
  3. 1 2 3 Daly, Steve (November 12, 2004). "What, Him Worry?". Entertainment Weekly . Retrieved August 30, 2009.
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  5. "Spanglish". Metacritic . Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  6. "SPANGLISH (2004) B+". CinemaScore . Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  7. Meyer, Carla (December 17, 2004). "Uneven 'Spanglish' has good moments". San Francisco Chronicle . Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  8. "Spanglish". Retrieved February 9, 2019.
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  11. "California on Location Awards (2004)". IMDb. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  12. "Spanglish". Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  13. "Imagen Foundation Awards (2005)". IMDb. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  14. "Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards (2004-2)". IMDb. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  15. "Satellite Awards (2005)". IMDb. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  16. "The 11th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". Screen Actors Guild Awards. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  17. "The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards (2004)". IMDb. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  18. "Young Artist Awards (2005)". IMDb. Retrieved February 9, 2022.