On Spanglish (2004)

Book coverI tried to lure my boys into watching a film with their old man (is that a slur or just slang? In the 21st century, it depends upon not so much the word nor the intent but how someone feels about it) by watching an Adam Sandler film, but they didn’t bite, which is just as well. This is not a comedy despite what the box nor blurbs say. This is one of the films where Adam Sandler is trying to turn into a dramatic actor as Tom Hanks did, but Hollywood and audience are still not letting him do it.

He’s not even the main character in the film: That’s Flor, played not by Salma Hayek. I am probably to be condemned for confusing Selma Hayek with Spanish actress Paz Vega, but I confuse a lot of people for others for reasons unknown and for reasons inscrutible to others (apparently, Heather Newman does not sound like Mary Chapin Carpenter and so on). Flor is a Mexican woman left by her man with her daughter. She comes to the United States (although not said explicitly, illegally is implied). She finds work as a maid/nanny for a wealthy family, including a famous chef (played by Sandler), a shrewish striving wife (Tea Leoni–has she ever played a character that did not annoy me? The Family Man, maybe?), a dumpy daughter, and an alcoholic mother in law (Cloris Leachman). The wife takes an interest in Flor’s daughter, buys her things, takes her to a salon day, gets her into the daughter’s private school–to Flor’s dismay and discomfort, her daughter starts behaving like the rich Americans. Flor does nice things for the family and gets closer to them, including moving into their vacation home during their vacation with her daughter, and she learns English. When the wife cheats on the husband, who has been busy preparing for a meal serving an influential critic and getting all his stars as well as having a subchef threaten to leave the restaurant–well, throughout, the husband and Flor grow close, but when the wife cheats, the husband cooks for Flor in the restaurant, they share a moment, but Flor leaves, and the husband seemingly goes to reconcile with his wife as Flor and the daughter leave them for good.

The film has a frame story of the girl, in voiceover, telling the story as part of her essay trying to get into Princeton and explaining how much she admires her mother. I’m not sure whether it adds to the film, and I’m not sure how much I really enjoyed the film or if I took any lessons from the film, but I suppose as I’m becoming a pre-Netflix Sandler completeist, I can cross it off the little checklist.

Below, in my defense, I have some pictures of Paz Vega so you can determine if she looks like Salma Hayek.

In some angles better than others. The first three are from Spanglish, and maybe I have seen Salma Hayek with that hairstyle before. Or not. Now that I’m looking at Salma Hayek pictures, I see they don’t look that much alike at all. Perhaps I got it in my head that the actress in this film was Salma Hayek, and that’s why I saw Salma Hayek.

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