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Film / Spanglish

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A 2004 dramedy film written and directed by James L. Brooks about language, culture barriers and forbidden love.

Flor Moreno (Paz Vega) is a recent illegal Mexican immigrant who, with her daughter Cristina (Shelbie Brucenote ) hope to start over and make new lives in America. After staying in the barrios with family, she finds work as a housekeeper for the Claskys, a very affluent family. John Clasky (Adam Sandler) is a head chef at a popular restaurant, while Deborah (Téa Leoni) is a stay-at-home mother with somewhat neurotic tendencies. They have two kids, Bernice (Sarah Steele), self-conscious of her weight, and Georgie (Ian Highland), informally taking singing lessons with his grandmother Evelyn Wright (Cloris Leachman), an alcoholic former jazz singer.


This results in a variety of clashes between the different factions in the house, providing the main conflict driving the film.

Flor attempts to remain isolated from the Claskys, wanting to hold on to her cultural identity for the sake of herself and her daughter, but things aren't always that simple...

Contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Evelyn. She quits drinking later in the story.
    • Flor, due to the language barrier and unfamiliarity with American culture.
  • Adult Fear: Flor's baby was growing up before her eyes; when Cristina was 12 (the age she is in our story) at her first social dance, Flor witnessed firsthand how much when a boy touched her inappropriately, and resolved to keep a closer eye on her.
    • Deb is neurotic for sure, and she goes about this the entirely wrong way, but you can't say she's not concerned about her daughter's gaining weight.
    • "Flor— I decided to steal your daughter for a bit. —Deborah" Holy crap.
  • Big Damn Kiss: John and Flor.
  • Brick Joke: Deb yells at Flor not to play fetch with Chum in the house. Later, when listening to her English learning tapes, she's distracted and tosses the ball away, which makes Chum want to do it more, knocking stuff over and wreaking havoc. Oops!
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  • Compliment Backfire: Deborah buys her daughter new clothes, only for the girl to find out that the clothes are sizes smaller and Deborah says that she will look beautiful when she loses the weight. Understandably, the girl breaks into tears and John is furious.
  • Control Freak: Deborah.
  • 8.8: In-universe: Sort of. John wants this score for his restaurant (3 and 1/4 stars, actually), because a four-star review would flood them with wealthy clientele, squeezing out his existing customer base and changing the atmosphere of the restaurant.
  • Food Porn: DAT SANDWICH. A DVD extra even shows how to make it!
    • "Oh, baby!"
  • Framing Device: Cristina wants to get into Princeton; her admissions essay is our story.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Yep. At least at this point in the story...
  • Heroic BSoD: The revelation that Deb was cheating on John absolutely blows his mind. A bit of a twist in that John goes right on speaking; that's how he stays sane through it, apparently.
    • "Well, there was a crack in the planet... that was noisy. Ah, man...
  • Hypocrite: Flor is upset at John for interfering in Cristina's life by offering her money for a job she did. But Flor interfered first by altering Bernice's clothes. John calls her on this, and she concedes immediately, which heightens their mutual attraction...
  • The Immodest Orgasm: One of the most ridiculous examples in film.
  • It's All About Me: Deborah. Best illustrated by the above trope: once she achieves her happy ending, she passes out, leaving John high and dry, if you will.
  • Left Hanging: The story ends when the Morenos' time with the Claskys comes to an end, and we never find out what became of Bernice, of Deborah and John's marriage, of John's attraction with Flor, or even whether Cristina got into Princeton. However, that's actually the point; Cristina says explicitly that the goal of the exercise was her Character Development, and that none of those answers are relevant to her arc.
  • Manly Tears: John's reaction to Bernice's reaction to the gifts.
    • Cristina narrating: "He seemed to be a good man, but to someone with experience with Latin macho... he seemed to have the emotions of a Mexican woman."
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: John and Deborah.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: the fact that Evelyn sobered up is kind of a big deal.
  • Precision F-Strike: John's other reaction to Bernice's reaction to the gifts.
  • Sexily Modest: During a heart-to-heart talk on a beach with John, Flor is shown wearing a loose-fitting button down blouse and a long white skirt; however, the night breeze flattens them out and shows off her VERY generous curves, causing John (who's developed a crush on Flor) to blurt, "Would you get out of the damn wind?!"
  • This Is My Story
  • The Unfavorite: Bernice to Deborah.

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