Spanglish

A comfortable Bel Air couple (Adam Sandler, Tea Leoni) hire a young Mexican woman (Paz Vega) as housekeeper for their family, and when they move to Malibu for the summer, she brings along her 12-year-old daughter, setting off a string of familial, interfamilial, and cultural crises. James L. Brooks (Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News), who wrote and directed this gripping, sometimes provocative comedy drama, is usually either scorned or applauded for his adept juggling of sitcom techniques. This movie may not change anyone's mind, but I was impressed by Brooks's flair in carrying much of the story with unsubtitled Spanish dialogue, and Sandler gives his most finely detailed performance to date as a committed parent and successful restaurateur-chef. He and Vega help to compensate for Leoni as one of Brooks's self-destructive neurotics, an overdirected and overplayed character who functions mainly as a sitting duck. With Cloris Leachman. PG-13, 128 min.

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