Spanglish (2004)

(In theaters, February 2005) It’s no accident if Spanglish shares its first few letters with Spank Me: It would take some serious masochism to sit through this sad excuse for a movie a second time. Within five minutes, I already knew I hated this film. Exploitation of illegal immigrants, rich white guilt, indulgence toward fat kids (let’s not hurt her feeelings)? Funny stuff, that. But even past my general loathing for the film’s unthinking acceptance of class exploitation, Spanglish fails on its own terms: the story goes everywhere and nowhere without any strong conductive tread, and ends with the laziest “…and she quit” plot cheat. What’s between awful beginning and bad ending is the stuff lame movies are made of. Inconsistent characters, grossly simplistic situations and dumb motivations: It’s hard to watch Tea Leoni struggle with her cardboard character and remember that this is from the same writer capable of writing Broadcast News. Adam Sandler also struggles with the saccharine puppet he’s asked to play, occasionally blowing off steam in two or three lines stolen from his usual angry personae. Spanglish never coheres, never does anything with the elements it has, never even tries to deliver something satisfying to its audience. Stay away from it.

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