A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Family is hard work but important to tend to. The film sends the false message that immigrating is easy and seamless.
Positive Role Models
Flor is a devoted mother who doesn't hesitate to start a new life in the United States and work several jobs to give her daughter a better life. Bernice and Cristina are loving girls with good values. John is a talented chef who's more concerned about having a good work environment than being famous. But his abusive wife Deborah body-shames their daughter, and her mother, Evelyn, has an alcohol dependency. The relationship between Deborah and Evelyn is full of resentment.
Offers an unrealistic depiction of Mexican immigration to the United States, as written and directed by a White Jewish filmmaker. Flor is played by Spanish actress Paz Vega, and border-crossing without documentation is falsely shown as being easy. When Flor walks down a street in Los Angeles that's inhabited by Mexicans, stereotypes are everywhere: palm reading, mariachis, piñatas, and vendors with charro hats. That said, women are portrayed well; Flor is an intelligent, self-respecting woman who wants her daughter to grow up with values and to be proud of their humble roots.
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Violence & Scariness
No scenes of physical violence, but characters have strong arguments and often use emotional abuse against family members.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The plot centers around a romance. Kissing, simulated intercourse, crass sexual humor. Adultery. A bare back is visible when someone comes out of the shower.
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A few instances of "f--k" and "s--t," plus "damn," "ass," "a--hole," "hell," and frequent use of "oh my God," "for God's sake," and "Jesus" as exclamations. Characters also make sexual gestures.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One character almost always has a drink in her hand. Her drunkenness is treated casually by the film.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Spanglish is an aughts-era romantic comedy starring Adam Sandler and Paz Vega, directed by James L. Brooks. It contains a mess of mixed messages all neatly wrapped in stereotypes, showing Mexican culture through a woman who crosses the border without documentation only to arrive in a Mexican neighborhood in Los Angeles filled with mariachis, piñatas, and vendors in charro hats. But it also shows the empowerment of the main Mexican character, an immigrant who becomes a maid so that she can send her daughter to a good school. Mature scenes include simulated sex, adultery, cruel mother-daughter behavior, alcohol abuse, and lots of salty language ("f--k," "s--t," "damn," "ass," and more). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This movie preys on every known stereotype in its reach for laughter and leaves everyone looking pretty bad. Clichés you'll find in Spanglish: The witchy wife, the drunken mother-in-law, and Sandler's now-stale characterization as a sweet husband who's at the mercy of all the fates around him. Leoni portrays Deborah with brutal coldness, which overshadows any supposed comic relief coming from Evelyn, who's supposed to stand as some sort of moral arbiter. The film is more sympathetic to the characters of Flor and Cristina, who are more aware of what they want in life.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.