Saturday, January 13, 2007

Spanglish

This will be less a review and more of a rant. If you haven’t seen this, stop reading if you don’t want to know the ending as I’m going to throw in some *spoilers* in what follows.

I saw Spanglish in 2004 when it first came out and left the theatre frustrated and completely annoyed at what I’d just seen. I watched sections of it again the other night on TV and felt exactly the same! I hate this movie and I mean HATE it.

Why? Writer/director James L. Brooks spends 4/5 of the movie making us dislike the shrillish wife (Tea Leoni) to Adam Sandler’s likeable husband. She’s unlikable in every single way and to every person around her—to her daughter, husband, mother and hired help. Wife and husband have a disaster of a relationship and she’s a neurotic mess and that’s all we ever see of her.

Enter spunky Mexican maid (who is also beautiful) who shows everyone just how decent and giving and loving a mother is supposed to be to those around her. Naturally, Sandler’s husband and this woman (Paz Vega) have sparks and hint around at the “chemistry” that is between them.

The end comes and the wife is supposedly changed and nothing comes of the husband, and this obviously much better person, in the maid. It’s a massive romantic drama tease that pulls a fake out at the end that I don’t buy for one second. Keeping the husband and wife together after everything we’ve just seen is one of those magical Hollywood conversions that would last about one month in the real world.

What ticks me off about the film is how can Brooks expect us (the audience) to WANT to see the film end with Sandler and Leoni when the ENTIRE movie he’s set her up to be despicable and made a saint out of Vega? Plus, Vega and Sandler are actually good together on screen unlike Sandler and Leoni. It’s a disaster of a decision by Brooks and fills me with distaste and sort of makes me actually angry when the film ends.

Sandler’s character is a weakling in the film who has a hard time standing up for what he truly believes in or feels but to think at the end, he’ll continue to be under his manipulative, emotional game playing wife instead of being with this better woman is an awful way to end the story. But hey, it’s Brooks’ story and film, if he wants to go down unbelievable, paths, that’s up to him. It doesn’t mean I have to like it—in fact, in the case of Spanglish—I loathe it.

6 comments:

Laura said...

I liked this movie. I've seen it a couple of times. I think if Sandler ended up with Vega, it would be more of a cheesy Hollywood ending. Not that I don't love those. I think it's more believable that he'd stay with the bitchy wife. The good girl never wins...

Replicant said...

I don't mind non-cheesy endings--but the WHOLE movie we see how awful Leoni is left and right and then to stick us w/ more of that at the end? I guess I'd liked more "cheese" in my ending, ha. I actually liked parts of this until that bitter aftertaste of an ending.

The Silver Screen Kid said...

This has nothing to do with Spanglish , but here goes anyway:

I just recently saw two amazing movies in theatre. Children of Men and Pan's Labyrinth. I'm actually surprised you haven't done reviews for them. You've been busy with real life lately, haven't you?

Each is great in its own right. I first saw Children of Men and thought it was the best thing I'd seen in theatre in a while. Then I saw Pan's Labyrinth and it upped the bar that much more. Awesome.

Replicant said...

Silver Screen Kid--I saw Children of Men last week and loved it too...top 5 of the year when I finally see all the releases after they make it to Tulsa. I haven't seen Pan's Labryinth yet but will.

Since I'm in the midst of a massive ice storm today--I haven't left the my driveway in at least 40 hours as we have 2/3 inches of ice on everything--I'll review Children of Men just for the Kid.

proudgirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
proudgirl said...

I loved this movie.

I think the ending had more to do with the kind of choices the CHARACTERS could realistically make as opposed to the choice that would make the most sense to us. Vega and Sandler both played people who were, first and foremost, parents. Should John Clasky have left his wife? In my opinion, yes, because she's just not worth the trouble. But then we forget that he's also a DAD (and a great one at that) - could he have realistically walked out on Deborah without causing some trauma in his children's lives? That's hard to say. From Bernice's relationship with her mother, you'd think she would've appreciated the change, but ultimately we see that she was glad her father came back to his family. Family is family - once you've created one, it just isn't so easy to walk out on. Nor should it be. It isn't about the choices we SHOULD make, it's about the ones we feel we have to make. For Sandler's John, that meant going back. Will it work out? I guess we're just not meant to know.

As for Vega's Flor? Well, she didn't have the capacity to be the other woman, and had they surrendered to their feelings, that's exactly what she would've been. She certainly hadn't caused the problems in the Claskys' marriage (Deborah did that all on her own), but had she stayed, she would've become the catalyst for its demise.

I think had John and Flor gotten it on that night, none of us would be sitting too well with that ending either. Truth is, what I would've liked to see is John ending his marriage (but still being a father to his kids) and having the guts to pursue true love with Flor somewhere down the line (and not in desperation as it would've been that night), but honestly? That might be too much cheese too.

So I like it just as it is.