Sunday, May 25, 2008

Romantic Movies: Spanglish

Spanglish (film)Image via Wikipedia
If you're not an Adam Sandler fan, put your prejudice aside as you read this review of the very romantic movie, Spanglish. The reason I say that is because this isn't your usual Adam Sandler role. From what I understand, the character Sandler plays in Spanglish is actually much more like his true personality than the usual goofball we see on screen. If that's the case, Sandler is probably someone we'd all want to know.

But just because Sandler embodies a more toned down version of his usual movie persona, that doesn't mean Spanglish isn't funny. It is. And it gets even funnier with repeated viewings. After all, it was written by Sandler's real-life neighbor James L. Brooks who also brought Jerry McGuire and As Good as It Gets to the screen.

Spanglish also stars the underrated Téa Leoni, who in my opinion is the best female physical comedian since Lucille Ball. In fact, I dare say that Leoni brings a subtlety to her work that Ball didn't have. (See her in Woody Allen's Hollywood Endings for another chance to experience how talented she is.)

Sandler and Leoni are also joined by a stellar cast, which includes the radiant Paz Vega in her first American movie. To get an idea of how amazing she was in this role, consider that the non-English-speaking Vega learned the language right alongside her character. I can't imagine what it was like to star in a movie and not even know the language. Don't try this at home, kids!

Also lending considerable talent to the project was Cloris Leachman of Mary Tyler Moore fame. Like Leoni, her performance has a subtlety that comes from a marriage of experience and natural comedic ability. Her boozy but still very sympathetic character couldn't have been pulled off by too many actresses. And the three children in the movie, played by Sarah Steele, Ian Hyland and Victoria Luna, weren't just there to fill space. Each delivered a totally professional performance that added to the whole.

If I were pressed to condense this review to a cliché consisting of just a few words, I would probably call Spanglish a story about a love triangle. But that wouldn't do at all because there are triangles intersecting triangles and various other shapes in this movie, with a little salsa and nouvelle cuisine thrown on top for good measure. In the end, this movie defies description; that's one of its great surprises.

Here's the trailer:

Don't forget to check out our 100 Romantic Movies list!

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