Opening 7 Apr 2005
Directed, scripted and produced by James L. Brooks (As Good As It Gets), this comedic drama stars Adam Sandler, Téa Leoni and Paz Vega, with excellent support from Cloris Leachman, Shelbie Bruce and Sarah Hahn.
After being abandoned by her husband, Flor (Vega) and her young daughter Cristina (Bruce) move from Mexico to L.A. For a number of years Flor works and moves exclusively in Hispanic circles, but a change of circumstances obliges her to look for work in the "outside" world. In spite of not speaking a word of English, Flor manages to secure herself a position as housekeeper for the Clasky family: John (Sandler), a four-star cook; Deborah (Leoni), his extremely neurotic wife; Evelyn (Leachman), his mother-in-law and former recording star; Bernice (Hahn), his somewhat overweight but lovely daughter and Georgie (Ian Hayland), his equally charming son. With the help of gestures and body-language, Flor learns the ways of the extremely dysfunctional family, constructively adding her sensitive touch and common sense.
It is only when Deborah rents a summer house on Malibu and asks Flor to stay with the family there that they discover the existence of Flor’s daughter. Deborah insists that Cristina join them as well and, though at first reluctant, Flor finally gives in. She fears that the opulence and lifestyle of the Claskys may have a harmful influence on her daughter, leading her to somehow lose her identity and sense of self; and when Deborah discovers in Cristina all the intelligence and beauty she imagines her own daughter to be lacking, it looks as though Flor’s concerns are justified. John also sees what is happening and, though he tries his best, is unable to convince Deborah to change her ways: his understanding and caring nature draw him close to Flor…
The premise seemed doubtful, but James L. Brooks has managed to put together a well-crafted movie that finds an excellent balance between comedy and drama. It touches on many real issues without falling into clichés or total predictability; there are plenty of laughs, but also moments that will even bring tears or, at the very least, sighs of regret. The acting was well rounded – especially of the supporting actors and Cloris Leachman in particular. (Osanna Vaughn)