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.