The problem with “Spanglish” is in mixing two different languages, it never communicates anything clearly.Cristina (Shelbie Bruce), a young Mexican immigrant, narrates the story of the impact of her mother, Flor (Paz Vega), on a rich Los Angeles family and the family’s impact on the immigrants.But the movie seems to switch focus almost as quickly as Flor learns to speak English.At first glance, it appears to be a cute comedy about a maid who helps a family with its dirty laundry in more ways than one. But halfway through, the movie turns intense, making me wonder if Flor doesn’t bring more upheaval than healing as the story takes a shot at examining adultery, commitment, cultural integration and parents’ worst fears.Though “Spanglish” misses a lot in translation, it’s worth watching for the strong characters.Adam Sandler trades in his class clown silliness for heartwarming acting as the calm husband of the L.A. family. Ironically, his wife Deborah (Téa Leoni) tops any old Sandler antics as she portrays an insecure, dramatic wife of two children. In fact, she delivers the most bizarre sex scene I think I’ve ever seen.And then there’s the well-done segment where Cristina translates her mother – word for word, tone for tone and gesture for gesture – as she gives her employer a piece of her mind.The strong characterization continues with secondary roles, such as that of Evelyn Norwich – the alcoholic mother-in-law with good advice and a caring heart – and the two daughters, Cristina and Bernice (Sarah Steele).But director James L. Brooks doesn’t delve deep enough into any of the compelling stories. In the end, I didn’t know how to interpret “Spanglish.” Is it about the white family’s marriage, the husband and the maid’s relationship or the mother and daughters’ relationship (and there are three emotionally-charged mother-daughter relationships)? Does the theme revolve around assimilation, adultery, commitment, tradition or something else completely?Even the end, which I assume impacts some people with its message and feeling, didn’t ring true for me.”Spanglish,” like Flor’s English, is bien and gets the job done; it’s just not great.
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