“Spanglish” is an unexpected drama from funnyman Adam Sandler. On the surface, it might look like a multicultural chick flick but the film has more layers than you might expect. The key is the well-written script that manages several interwoven conflicts without feeling cumbersome. The main conflicts require a lot of depth from Sandler, who proves to be excellent in his serious acting, but his quirkiness occasionally takes us out of the moment. A script this heavy requires comic relief (with great examples from Cloris Leachman throughout the film) but the “Happy Gilmore” passive aggressive dialogue delivery doesn't fit the character. The real winner in this film is the bond between mother and daughter. It is interesting because the trailers focus on the love story but the opening narration sets the expectation for the mother-daughter relationship to be the most important plot point. Paz Vega is a true treat to watch. Her feistiness is reminiscent of Penelope Cruz while maintaining her own unique identity. I wish that she had made a larger splash in the American film market. Téa Leoni plays the erratic, materialistic mother very well. I think that her performance is overlooked because we don’t like her character, but that is because she plays this bratty character so perfectly that we forget that she is acting. My final takeaway is that “Spanglish” predicted the foodie trend in film and television that would appear a few years later. When I first saw this in theaters, the food aspect didn’t leave any sort of impression; however, now that I watch it in the context of foodie culture, I can really appreciate each scene that involves gourmet cuisine. “Spanglish” is far from a comedy but too quirky to be a serious drama. As long as you are prepared for something in the middle, this movie will provide you with plenty of great ups and downs.
[Pictured: Amidst the chaos of the story, the best takeaway is a strong sense of familial love]