Parents' Guide to

Spanglish

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Mixed messages wrapped in stale stereotypes.

Movie PG-13 2004 130 minutes
Spanglish Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 7 parent reviews

age 12+

Ehhh

Violence 0/5 Sex 2/5 Language 3/5 Drinking/Drugs/Smoking 3/5
age 15+

Perhaps Adam Sandler’s most underrated movie; but younger kids probably won’t understand it.

As many of you who have read my reviews know, I usually praise anything Adam Sandler does. However, this movie in particular, Spanglish, deserves more credit than almost anything he’s done. In my opinion, Spanglish, is one of the best rom-com/family dramas ever written. It got negative reviews by most people, but it’s got an excellent story and some genuinely funny moments. But most of all, it’s way different from most of his movies. Usually, an Adam Sandler movie is has a very goofy plot, loads of slapstick, juvenile humor, but is still very enjoyable. However, while there are funny moments in this movie, the humor is geared more towards grown ups and is a tad more sophisticated. Matter of fact, the humor in this movie seems serious until you think about what the joke is. And it has a serious story this time. The basic story is about a very talented chef named John Clasky (played by the legendary Adam Sandler), who cares deeply about his job, and his family. Unfortunately, he is having trouble with his marriage with his wife, Deborah (played by Téa Leoni), who constantly chastises him and exasperates her children. Meanwhile, Flor (played by Paz Vega), a Spanish woman who immigrates with her daughter, Cristina (played by Shelbie Bruce) to America to raise her. So, Deborah Clasky hires her to work for housekeeping at their house. But John Clasky soon meets Flor and forms somewhat of a connection with her. But… one thing that he has to adjust to, is that she doesn’t speak English at first (hence the movie’s title). Adam Sandler is always delightfully entertaining in his movies. But here, he plays one of the greatest performances he’s played in his entire career. Instead of the goofy, immature manchild he consistently plays in his other stuff, he plays a very mature, loving father who is passionate about his job. His character is always merciful to his children, and is welcoming to Flor and her daughter, Cristina. Some of his best acting in this movie is towards the end of the movie where he’s facing troubles with his wife. And while his character is not comedic, he has a couple of funny lines. Tea Leoni plays an excellent part as John Clasky’s wife, Deborah. Her character is an absolutely neurotic, unhinged nutcase. She constantly treats her family like garbage, and the only person she’s really concerned about is herself. However, she treats Flor and Cristina like they’re angels. Some of her best acting also comes towards the end of the movie. Cloris Leachman also plays a terrific part as Deborah’s mom, Evelyn Wright. Evelyn is a raging alcoholic, but very cheerful most of the time. She is by far the most comedic character in the movie, and some of the very funniest scenes involve her. Another thing about her, is that she constantly picks out all the flaws of her daughter, Deborah. Paz Vega’s character Flor, is also very memorable. She doesn’t know a lot of English, so she often has her daughter translate for her. However, she picks up on the English language later in the movie. But what’s most notable about her character, is that when she clearly sees Bernice, the Claskys’ daughter, get mistreated by her mom, Deborah, she always seems to show compassion for her. While Spanglish is a great movie, it has only one minor flaw. The ending is a bit depressing and is not a fitting end to this story. But I will not spoil it, so you’ll have to see it for yourself. Parents guide: Violence: None. Sex: Some important parts of the story involve adultery, but no spoilers here. Also, in the beginning of the movie, a young boy dances with Cristina, and grabs her butt. And in one scene, Deborah has a robe wrapped around her during a conversation with her husband, John, who puts his hand inside her robe, cups her clothed breast and kisses her cheek. She then throws a fit. Also, there’s one very short scene that I would recommend be fast-forwarded through. It’s right after his wife finds out about his great restaurant review, and passionately makes out with him, then soon after that, she has sex with him on the bed (but no nudity is shown). This scene starts at minute 38:05 and ends about 2 minutes later at exactly 40 minutes in the movie. Language: There isn’t that much profanity in this movie at all. 1 “f-you” is used by Adam Sandler. And the “s” word and the “a” word are only used 2-3 times. Substance Abuse: Evelyn drinks A LOT of wine! Anyways, I highly recommend this movie for fans of romantic comedy or romance drama, or even diehard Adam Sandler fans like me. However, once again, kids under 17 are unlikely to enjoy this movie due to it mostly being a drama film. This movie really does have that much objectionable material in it at all, besides one trashy scene to fast-forward through, and some adult topics in the plot that teenagers 15 and up should be able to handle.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (7 ):
Kids say (11 ):

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.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: December 17, 2004
  • On DVD or streaming: April 5, 2005
  • Cast: Adam Sandler , Paz Vega , Tea Leoni
  • Director: James L. Brooks
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Run time: 130 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: some sexual content and brief language
  • Last updated: December 17, 2023

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

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.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate