Mexican immigrant Paz Vega comes to work as a maid for the household of Adam Sandler (a chef who is very reluctantly accepting his growing renown) and Téa Leoni (insanely overwrought neurotic interior designer). Vega and her daughter wind up living with this family during a summer, and Vega’s presence is the catalyst for many changes, particularly in the relationship between Sandler and Leoni, which is veering into very treacherous shoals.
I have maintained before that a comedy nee…s an enormously compelling reason to break the 90 minute mark. Spanglish clocks in at an astounding 131, which is hugely excessive for any film that does not have the word “epic” somewhere in its descriptor. The film is pleasant enough, and one doddles along, decently entertained, until, with dawning horror, one realizes that, almost an hour into the film, one has only just reached the first plot point. This issue aside, there is also the question of Leoni’s character. On the one hand, Leoni steals every scene she’s in, but this makes her supporting character much more memorable than the leads. The character is also such a cartoon that she seems to belong in a different, much broader sort of comedy, and is rather at odds with the low key nature of the rest of the film.
Low key film, low key audio. The 5.1 capabilities are hardly given a massive work-out. The surround effects are very restrained, and not very common, but they are appropriate and well-placed when they do occur. The dialogue is very clear and distortion-free, and the music is similarly restrained (unusual for a Hans Zimmer score).
The colours are very nice and rich, and the image is sharp. There is some very minor grain, but one has to look for it and it in no way detracts from the viewing pleasure. A nice, solid transfer, one that isn’t exactly eye candy, but absolutely does what it needs to.
For a film so much longer than it should be, it seems ironic that so much is made in the commentary (where writer/director James L. Brooks is joined by his editors) of how this scene or that scene were edited down from what they had been original. How long did this go in the rough cut? A hint perhaps is contained in the 12 deleted scenes (with optional commentary by Brooks). Brooks also comments on the casting sessions. “How to Make the World’s Greatest Sandwich” is a short featurette on the sandwich scene, but also has the actual recipe. The HBO making-of featurette is the usual sort of thing, and there are six trailers. The DVD-ROM feature is the shooting script. The menu’s main screen and transitions are scored and animated, and the secondary screens are scored.
A likeable, if flawed film, that does overstay its welcome.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Deleted Scenes with Director’s Introductions
- Casting Sessions with Director’s Commentary
- “How to Make the World’s Greatest Sandwich” Featurette
- Making-of Featurette
- Shooting Script