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Comedy Movies - Spanglish

BUY Spanglish (dvd cover)
Adam Sandler, Tea Leoni, Paz Vega, Cloris Leachman
Directed by James L. Brooks
Columbia Tristar Home Video
130 minutes

Spanglish is the only Adam Sandler movie that is watchable from beginning to end without using that marvelous invention called the fast forward. Sandler plays it straight and actually does a decent acting job as the father of a small family who hires a Spanish-speaking maid. Granted it is clear in the lovemaking scene with Tea Leoni he was out of his element and you can tell the director used voiceover to fix it later on. Nonetheless, this is a pretty decent romantic comedy of sorts.

Tea Leoni, perhaps best know for a string of failed situation comedies plays Deborah Clasky who is everything a rich, pampered, probably ex-cheerleader wasp princess is in real life. That she has no clue her decisions and lack of sensitivity towards other is central to the movie. The scene-stealer par excellence in Spanglish is Paz Vega as Flor Moreno, the maid the Claskys hire. She accepts the job to provide more for her daughter and, in the end, leaves it because she does not want her daughter to become like Deborah and her ilk. It is unfortunate director James L. Brooks (Mary Tyler Moore and a whole bunch of other sitcoms, Terms of Endearment, As Good As It Gets, Broadcast News) does not do more with the grandmother character, played by the great Cloris Leachman or the running gag of the ball-chasing dog.

Yet, as some 130 minutes, this comedy or romantic movie, go figure, is a tad wee bit too long. The setup, of the story being told by Flor's daughter in her application to Princeton is a great idea (though it is quickly obvious the device will not be respected throughout the entire movie as there are scenes the daughter could not possibly have been privy to) but there is too much time spend on story only to establish the characters. Somewhat better writing and directing and access to a cutting room could have chopped some twenty minutes off this flick without hurting anything.

All in all, there is an Adam Sandler movie out there you can actually watch. Will you want to see it again? Probably not.

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