Directed by: JAMES L. BROOKS
Written by: JAMES
Starring: ADAM SANDLER, TEA LEONI, PAZ VEGA, CLORIS LEACHMAN,
Released by: Columbia Pictures
Short: The new film from the director of
“As Good As It Gets” is not as good
as it gets, but it’s still worth a peek.
Tale of Two Cultures
Message Crosses Borders
starts with Flor (Paz Vega), a young mom and Mexican immigrant
to Los Angeles, who gets a maid’s job in the ritzy
Bel-Air home of star chef John (Adam Sandler) and his
wife Deborah (Téa Leoni). From there, the clash
of styles and cultures takes over, with some smart, 21st
The wide-eyed Vega (the Spanish star of “Talk to
Her” and “Sex and Lucia”) is phenomenal.
She’s not simply gorgeous, she’s gorgeous,
and she brings a nobility to the job (and the role) that
every worker (and actor) should emulate. Equally watchable,
Leoni’s Deborah has an intensity bordering on manic.
She wears 70 SPF sunscreen, has to always be first —
even on her morning jog — and delivers the funniest
on-screen orgasm since “When Harry Met Sally.”
Sarah Steele brings tremendous heart as John and Deborah’s
daughter, and Cloris Leachman is a riot as Deborah’s
women all outclass John, however, which is unfortunate
since he’s the linchpin of this movie. He’s
caring. Generous. Fun. Sensitive. But he’s not a
pushover, oh no, because he’s just trying to do
right. Get it? Sandler’s even put on a few pounds
to show how normal John is.
But was Sandler was meant to play normal? We loved him
in “Punch Drunk Love” and the “Wedding
Singer” (and sheepishly admit to loving “Happy
Gilmore”). Minus the underlying goofiness of those
films, we weren’t sensing much spark.
still has plenty to recommend. L.A. looks bright and cheerful,
and the film avoids the “Mmm, I’ve never tasted
a taco before!” moments common to cross-cultural
films (although we found it implausible that Flor could
go from speaking no English to having meaningful conversations
over the course of a few months). Most importantly, the
family stories at the heart of the film are fun, timely
and ultimately moving.