Adam Sandler as John Clasky
Paz Vega as Flor Moreno
Téa Leoni as Deborah Clasky
Shelbie Bruce as Cristina Moreno
Sarah Steele as Bernice Clasky
Cloris Leachman as Evelyn Norwich
Ian Hyland as Georgie Clasky
Spanglish is a heartfelt, funny, sad, human story about what people want and what they should do; about culture’s colliding and maintaining their individuality; and about what parents do for their children.
Paz Vega is the heart of the film; she’s funny, she’s real. She has wonderful chemistry with both Sandler and Bruce and her scenes with the two of them are the highlight of the film. Her romance with Sandler is the best story of the many that weave in and out of the film, in part, though, because it gets the majority of the screen time. Téa Leoni gets a lot of the physical comedy as her Deborah gradually self-destructs, but much like Cloris Leachman, disappears for a large sections of the film. Spanglish also stands out for having incredible child actors – particularly Sarah Steele (Bernice Clasky), a 40 year old comic wonder living inside a 12 year old girl.
This is one of writer/director James L. Brooks’ most sharply and humanly observed scripts – the best laughs are character based and often unforeseen. Characters tend to be slightly quirky, but never to absurdity. The film rests on a narration by an adult Cristina looking back on a seminal moment in her life that is occasionally preachy and unnecessary, but that’s the only real weakness in the film.