Spanglish (film)

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Spanglish poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James L. Brooks
Produced by
Written by James L. Brooks
Narrated by Aimee Garcia
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography John Seale
Edited by Richard Marks
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • December 17, 2004 (2004-12-17)
Running time
131 minutes[1]
Country United States
  • English
  • Spanish
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 stars Adam Sandler, Paz Vega, and Téa Leoni. It was released in the United States on December 17, 2004 by Columbia Pictures and by Gracie Films, and in other countries over the first several months of 2005.

The film grossed $55 million worldwide, less than the $80 million production budget.[2] The film received mixed reviews.


Cristina Moreno (Aimee Garcia) is applying to Princeton University. For her application essay, she tells the story of her childhood.

Flor Moreno (Paz Vega) is a poor Mexican single mother who is hired as the housekeeper for a rich American family in Los Angeles: John (Adam Sandler) and Deborah Clasky (Téa Leoni), their children Bernice (Sarah Steele) and Georgie (Ian Hayland), and Deborah's alcoholic mother Evelyn Wright (Cloris Leachman). John is head chef at a popular restaurant, Deborah is a former businesswoman turned stay-at-home mother, and Evelyn is a former jazz singer. Flor, who speaks very little English, does not mention that she has a daughter, Cristina (Shelbie Bruce). John, Evelyn, and the kids are likable; Deborah, however, is uptight and unfriendly, her neurotic behavior often upsetting both households.

Summer comes and Flor is needed 24/7 at the Claskys' summer home. Unable to communicate well in English, Deborah finds a neighbor to interpret. Flor admits she is unable to maintain these hours because she has a daughter, so Cristina is invited to come stay with them, acting as interpreter for her mother. She impresses Deborah, who begins to treat her like a daughter, taking Cristina shopping, getting her hair done, enrolling her in a private school, and showing her more love than she does to the sensitive Bernice.

Cristina's personality begins to be increasingly influenced by Deborah, upsetting Flor, who wants Cristina to keep in touch with her Mexican roots and working-class values, and feels that Deborah is overstepping her bounds. Flor voices her objections to John, who apologizes. She is further upset upon discovering that John has given Cristina over $600 in cash for a minor task. She threatens to leave, but John convinces her to stay for Cristina's sake.

Flor begins to learn English so she can communicate better. She becomes closer to John, who is having difficulty with Deborah's self-centered behavior. The now-sober Evelyn realizes that her daughter is having an affair and that her marriage is in trouble. She pleads with Deborah to end the affair, telling her she'll never get another man as good as John. Deborah confesses to John that she cheated on him; John walks out and gives Flor a ride in his car. They go to his restaurant, where he cooks for Flor and they enjoy the "conversation of their lives," feeling love for one another.

Flor quits and takes her daughter home, upsetting Cristina, who got along well with the Claskys. On their way home, she tells Cristina that she can't go to the private school anymore, upsetting Cristina even more; she screams in the middle of the street that Flor can't do this to her and that her life is ruined. Flor loses patience with Cristina after she asks her mother for space. Flor explains to her daughter that she must answer the most important question of her life, at a very young age: "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.

Years later, Cristina as an adult, acknowledges that her life rests firmly and happily on the simple fact that she is her mother's daughter.



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[edit]

The film received mixed reviews. Based on 165 reviews collected by the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 53% of critics gave Spanglish a positive review.[4] 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). However, its detractors described it as "uneven", "awkward", and "mean-spirited".


Hans Zimmer was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score. Cloris Leachman was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress.


  1. ^ "SPANGLISH (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. January 6, 2005. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "Spanglish (2004)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 30, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c Daly, Steve (November 12, 2004). "What, Him Worry?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 30, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Spanglish (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 30, 2009. 

External links[edit]