The Source for Youth Ministry

Movie Reviews
by Jonathan McKee

Spanglish (4/5/2005)

Rated PG-13

Directed by James L. Brooks (As Good As It Gets, Terms of Endearment)

Starring Adam Sandler, Tea Leoni, and Paz Vega

Jonathan's Rating: Theatre Worthy

I knew this film was going to be incredible before it even began. James L. Brooks delivers nothing less than incredible. This is one of the great “date flicks” of the year for adult couples.

Spanglish was a humorous and heartwarming story of a woman and her daughter who emigrate from Mexico for a better life in America, only to start working for a dysfunctional rich family where the patriarch is a newly celebrated chef with an insecure wife and an alcoholic mother in law.

Sound interesting? Okay . . . maybe it doesn’t sound too catchy . . . but you’ll love it!

You’ll laugh at the authentic dialogue from quirky, real characters that you think you’ve actually met. And your heart will break for the victims of genuine dysfunction so common in American homes today.

If you liked As Good as it Gets, then you like James L. Brooks' style and you’ll like Spanglish.

I have to admit, almost more than I’m impressed with James L. Brooks’ incredible writing and directing . . . I’m impressed with his casting. Brooks writes roles with certain actors in mind. And you won’t find kids plucked out of some local modeling agency . . . you’ll find real looking kids that look like the ones that go to school with your kids. I was literally amazed at the performances from the kids in this film, especially the two girls. It felt as though you were a fly on the wall watching real life happen.

I’ve always liked Tea Leoni. In the past she’s played anywhere from loving, to romantic, to irritating. In Spanglish she plays a “wack-job.” I was rolling in the aisles at some of her antics. (Especially every time she goes running!)

And, as much as I’m not a big Adam Sandler fan (because I’ve heard some of his standup . . . and he’s a real life “wack-job”), in this film he really came through. Don’t get me wrong, I loved him in Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer . . . although that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to deliver in a serious film. But he does! Brooks saw something in him (maybe from the very depressing Punch Drunk Love) and brought a great performance out of him.

No. First, simply because they would be bored. This film is “grown up” humor. The film has no nudity, and its foul language consists of 1 “f” word, 2 “s” words, and a few other mild ones. But there is an affair, a PG-13 sex scene, and a lot of mature content. Kids should skip this one. I would even steer most young teenagers away from this one, unless you caught it on T.V. Even then . . . the content might be only as acceptable as your typical Friends episode.

Side Note:
As said above, we don't recommend your kids see this film. But on the occasion that they actually have already seen it, you may want to dialogue about the film with them. These questions below may be a help to you.

Conversation Starter
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):

  1. What are some of the messages or themes you observed in this movie?

  2. How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this movie?

  3. How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?

Jonathan McKee Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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