Now we’re talking. Of all the movies we’ve discussed so far, Spanglish is probably the most watchable. It is, for all intents and purposes, a professionally put together drama about genuine-ish characters dealing with the ups and downs of modern suburban life. And yet, despite its watchableness and its slick, Hollywood style, it falls so short in its ambitions, and bungles its professed intentions so badly, that I feel for the first time like we’re finally getting to the heart of what this Hunt is supposed to be all about. While theoretically a “better” movie than many that we’ve seen, it is that disastrous mishandling of lofty ideals that really makes us (me) wince. It’s also kind of racist. Perfect.


Spanglish is told through the college admissions essay of Cristina Moreno, who says that her greatest inspiration is her mother. What follows is the story of a married couple played by Tea Leoni and Adam Sandler. They live in Los Angeles with Tea Leoni’s alcoholic mother and their two children, one of whom is a little chubby, and the other one is a boy. Cristina’s mother, Flor, is hired by Tea Leoni to be a nanny and housekeeper. But Flor doesn’t speak English! Ha ha! You can imagine that things get pretty silly. Then a newspaper writes a review of Adam Sandler’s restaurant calling him the greatest chef in the country, so they rent a beach house in Malibu and make Flor and Cristina come live there? Adam Sandler is kind of miserable and Tea Leoni cheats on him and then he almost cheats on her with Flor but then he doesn’t. Meanwhile Tea Leoni enrolls Cristina in the private school that her children attend because she likes Cristina better than she likes her own children. In the end, though, Flor decides that she cannot work there anymore what with how she almost destroyed Adam Sandler’s marriage and also how they are turning Cristina into a c word. LONGEST COLLEGE ADMISSIONS ESSAY EVER.

The immediate and largest problem with this movie is Tea Leoni’s depiction of a harried, depressive, angry suburban housewife. The problem is that it’s hard to feel sympathy or root for miserable characters, especially when they’re just consistently miserable. And we’re never offered any explanation for why Tea Loni’s character acts this way. Combine that with the puppy dog sensitivity of Adam Sandler’s character, who apparently can do no wrong (although he almost does wrong) and she’s even more monstrous. Why did he marry her? Why is he staying with her? We are never given the answers to these questions, and so it’s just two hours of some bitch screaming. Shut her up! I’m not saying that miserable shrews don’t deserve to have their stories told, although maybe I am saying that miserable shrews don’t deserve to have their stories told.

Not that Adam Sandler’s good guy routine isn’t equally unbearable. He’s supposedly a great chef, which we know because one time he made an egg sandwich.

OK, but he’s presented as some kind of Mr. Perfect. That’s already obnoxious and unrealistic, but he’s also clearly not Mr. Perfect as evidenced by the fact that he almost cheats on his wife with Flor. Granted, she’s miserable and just told him that she had cheated on him, but still. You’re either going to be the bigger man or you are not going to be the bigger man, but you cannot be both the bigger man and the smaller man, except in this movie you can, which is one of the reasons it is bad. Also, while I will commend Mr. Sandler on an acceptable performance in a movie that especially at the time seemed well outside of his comfort zone, nevertheless, always with the yelling?

Yup. Always with the yelling. Then there’s the story of Flor and Cristina, which I guess is supposed to be an honest look at the immigrant’s experience, especially concerning a parent’s pain in watching the new generation assimilate. Sure, James L. Brooks. Except that in general, assimilation occurs as a natural process as part of being in a new country, not because some rich asshole decides that they like you better than their chubby daughter because they have an eating disorder themselves. Not to mention the part where Tea Leoni gets Cristina a full ride at a private school, but the private school never once asks to meet Cristina’s actual mother? No, yes, sorry, I went to public school so I’m so stupid, I’m sure that’s totally how it works. That is about as believable as the time that two guys at the bar tried to order Flor and Cristina a drink, even though it is impossibly obvious that Cristina is 12.

In the end, the movie fails primarily because it hopes to be a poignantly complex look at modern life but everything is painfully simple. Tea Leoni sucks. Adam Sandler is nice. Flor is gentle. Grandma is a sassy drunk. The daughter is chubby. The son is a boy. Seriously, the son was probably my favorite character. So ill-defined and unnecessary! At the beginning of the movie, to show the rift between Adam Sandler and Tea Leoni, they have a fight about conflicting parenting messages and how it’s important to be on the same page. OK. That seems like a real thing that parents fight about. Except that the fight stems, literally, from their son asking Adam Sandler, “Dad, are you as mad at me as mom because of what happened?” BECAUSE OF WHAT HAPPENED! Multi-million dollar movie with big name celebrities and one of the creators of the Simpsons and no one could think of a single thing to write into the script that was more interesting or realistic than “because of what happened?” What is the Spanish word for “lame”?

Also, in classic Worst Movie style, there was a RIDICULOUS COFFEE MACHINE!

What is it about terrible movies and unrealistic depictions of coffee makers? Venti FAIL.

Next week: Gigli. As always, please leave your suggestions in the comments or in an email. And if you haven’t done so already, please consult the Official Rules.

Comments (76)
  1. Chadams  |   Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 0

    I should campaign for being your sole source of Worst Movies Ever (given these last two reviewed recommendations). I’d suggest Jersey Girl, but I think that one could be passed over for being a Kevin Smith abomination. I’ll strongly recommend A.I. and maybe License to Wed (yeah…).

  2. adam  |   Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 +5

    I just got done watching “Across the Universe”, and I was absolutely stunned. First, they butchered great songs w/ impossibly bad singing, arrangements, visuals, and and a combination thereof. Second, the movie tries to make Beatles songs profound in a way that they were never meant to be(see: I Want You(She’s So Heavy)). And third, they set the story during the most cliche time during american history to which they set the most cliche story line using cliche Beatles songs at predictable moments. i mean……..WTF.

    • Lauren  |   Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 +2

      And I’m glad someone mentioned Across the Universe. All my friends saw this movie and told me, “OMG this is the best movie eva!” It’s not. I thought a lot of the scenes looked beautiful in a busy overwrought way, but that’s it. So overrated.
      My vote for the hunt is, “Because I Said So” with Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore.
      So awful. So so awful.

      • Jamie  |   Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 +1

        I also have to agree with Across the Universe being awful. It thought it was so clever with its obvious Beatles puns, like “She came in through the bathroom window.” Uggh! Everyone told me that it was good, but when I finally saw it, I was wincing with every song. Also, Eddie Izzard should never sing again.

        • YES! Across the Universe was terrible! That is a really good nomination.

          • Nick  |   Posted on Oct 14th, 2008 0

            ACROSS THE UNIVERSE!
            I think they did the songs themselves justice music-wise, BUT they forgot they actually needed a movie to go along with them. So yeah, they are almost all used in the most predictable, literal ways. There was almost zero creativity.
            Although, I actually thought bits like “I Want You” were the high points. I’d much rather see the songs used to illustrate something something that, while still literal enough (unfortunately), at least isn’t what is expected (as we see with “Hey Jude” or “All You Need Is Love”).
            AND, the very last shot is one of the worst things in the history of visual media, up there with the end of whichever Harry Potter had Harry zooming off on his broomstick.

        • eddie izzard didn’t sing so much as he just talked in a weird up and down awkward way with the music. the only good thing about that movie was the hotness of jim sturgess, but even that wasn’t enough to make it enjoyable.
          and also i’m going to nominate the butterfly effect for the millionth time, and keep doing it until that horrible movie is taken down.

      • I was a dumber and smaller person after watching “Because I said so”. It hurt. It did make me feel better about my mother, my friends (except the ones who recommended the movie), my siblings, my relationships, and my job even if I was dumber after watching it. So maybe it’s some sort of hardcore poor person’s therapy and has redeeming value after all.

  3. dani  |   Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 0

    I think the thing that drove me crazy the most about this movie was the unnecessary green screen for the driving sequences. Why was it filmed that way? Why couldn’t they have been filmed actually driving especially since such a good amount of the movie takes place in cars! It was so weird and disconcerting I could never get past it and hated the film because of it. Also, Tea Leoni is an insufferable bitch.

  4. steve  |   Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 +2

    Bicentennial Man.

  5. chef  |   Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 +4

    fuck it, that it the most delicious looking egg sandwich ever.

  6. Jeremy   |   Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 -3

    Yes, quite terrible. I wont even give Across the Universe a chance cause I already hate it without seeing it. Candidates for next worst movie- JUNO. Almost Famous. Clerks

  7. I nominate Brothers Solomon. Will Arnett being on Arrested Development makes him the A-est of A list stars and it truly is the worst. If you can get past the first 30 minutes without deciding that you’d rather pluck out every hair on your arm, I’ll give you my firstborn.

  8. Lost In Space or The Lake house.

  9. Sebastian Paper  |   Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 0

    Best Part: Flor forbids her daughter to go to private school, thereby forcing her to go to Los Angeles public school where Latinos are treated horribly. If she had just gone to the private school she wouldn’t have even had to write a college essay and this whole story would never be told. WIN.

  10. I would like to defend The Lake House as actually being brilliant if one doesn’t think too hard. I know that sounds like an insult but its not. If you don’t believe me read Roger “I clearly don’t give a F**k” Ebert’s hilarious THREE AND A HALF STAR REVIEW!!!!: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060615/REVIEWS/60606007/1023

    also, I motion for Across the Universe even though my girlfriend would be really pissed at me. that movie was so terrible.

  11. I put in my vote for Greaser’s Palace. But it might not fit the rules unless you count Hervé Villechaize as a b-lister. no this is totally outsider art

  12. Christian  |   Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 +2

    Did we already watch The Legend of Bagger Vance? It’s like Finding Forrester except that Forrester is black instead of Scottish is golfer instead of a writer and the other one is *not* black and *is* Matt Damon. I like to take over-the-counter sleeping pills and then pop in the dvd and call girls. “Hey, babe. What are you doing? Oh? Me? I’m just watching a little Bagger.”

  13. Christian  |   Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 0

    Did we already watch The Legend of Bagger Vance? It’s like Finding Forrester except that Forrester is black instead of Scottish and is a golfer instead of a writer and the other one is *not* black and *is* Matt Damon. I like to take over-the-counter sleeping pills and then pop in the dvd and call girls. “Hey, babe. What are you doing? Oh? Me? I’m just watching a little Bagger.”

  14. yeah, so this was pretty awful. whatever, sandler gets a lifetime free pass for “punch-drunk love” which was awesome.

  15. ber  |   Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 -2

    i don’t care…i still love this movie!

  16. Liam  |   Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 -1

    i agree with all the people who call for “Across the Universe” to be burned at the stake. I get all chris crocker when i think about that movie. LEAVE THE BEATLES ALOOOOOOONE!

  17. Michelle  |   Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 0

    If you want a movie that truly and wholly and horribly bungles its professed intentions: Shopgirl. It goes for the elegant, subtle, wise, true, poignant, whatever, and yet…there are no words for how quietly horrible it is. Ugh. It’s like the complete absence of any reality mixes with the “bittersweet meaning of love” bullshit and makes this toxic mess that gets right down to your soul. The true, truest worst movie. (Though A.I. is pretty bad. Shopgirl doesn’t sound like such a terrible idea at the outset, though, so it gets the higher starting value. It’s just as bad as A.I. without the use of Haley Joel Osment or CGI, which means it fails that much more.)

  18. Laura   |   Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 +1

    I never post here, but just had to comment- Gabe, you MUST review The Lake House. That movie was made for you to review it, for it surely is one of the worst movies of all time.

  19. I actually….liked Across the Universe. Like…..a lot
    And Brothers Solomon
    You guys suck
    Try Hobgoblins. It’s the worst worst movie EVER

    • I’m completely against the nomination for Brothers Solomon just because it has Will Arnett in it, and slandering anyone involved in the beauty that was Arrested Development is on the FAIL list

      • Watch Let’s Go To Prison and see if you still stand by that statement. I’ve tried to blindly support anything a Bluth does when they’re not being a Bluth, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

  20. Tucker  |   Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 +1

    The Happening. That movie is a total dick.

  21. ian g  |   Posted on Oct 14th, 2008 0

    Christian Slater was in a movie… i’m sure it was during the 2000s, called He was a quiet man. It is the worst movie i’ve ever seen. I was able to watch the whole thing because it was so horrible that it was funny. Just watch it, see if you agree.

  22. Is there a ranking of the movies seen already? Like which is worser than the rest?

  23. Dane  |   Posted on Oct 14th, 2008 +1

    Godfather III

  24. Dane  |   Posted on Oct 14th, 2008 +1

    Actually, speaking of Pacino, S1mone.

    • OMG, I second S1mone. I borrowed that movie from someone and jokes on me cause I don’t talk to that person anymore (not because of the movie, but it’s likely) and I still have that shit sandwich of a movie. That movie’s so bad it made me angry. That movie is so bad, that if I’m ever in Blockbuster again and someone picks that movie up I will do them the favor of taking that movie, throwing it to the ground and stomping the shit out of it.

      Someone owes me time and money for that!

  25. Flor. Floor. Flore. Fllor. Fllorr. Ffflor. Fahloar. Florrrr.

    Rrrrr-ruffles have rrrr-ridges!

  26. I remember when this film came out there was an aritcle about how James L. Brooks had written the Tea Leoni character after his ex-wife. It pretty much stated that the character was such a loathsome one because Brooks hated his ex. If you notice the film spends way too much time with her and she never is likeable, even in the end. So, Brooks made a movie to get back at his wife. Man, he musta hated that chick.

  27. i don’t remember hating this movie….

    and again, i will have to nominate THE MARINE with John Cena.

  28. natemc  |   Posted on Oct 14th, 2008 -1

    i’ve been in both camps, but i totally agree with “drawing the line somewhere.” and “let’s go to prison” simultaneously destroyed 2 free passes: will arnett’s “arrested development” pass and bob odenkirk’s “mr. show” pass.
    god, let’s go to prison is an awful movie.

  29. I nominate I Heart Huckabees. If I wasn’t on vacation on a rainy day, I would’ve walked out of the theater. Awful.

  30. I rented Harold and Kumar go to Guantanamo bay two nights ago with some friends. Not only was it not at all funny, the unrated version wasn’t even that dirty. The only thing it had going for it was the casting…those whores really looked like whores.

  31. worstmovie  |   Posted on Oct 14th, 2008 0

    Surf Nazis Must Die – worst… movie… ever.

  32. Stinkers I saw Recently Thanks to Netflix:
    Crash (David Cronenberg Version)
    Brand Upon The Brain
    Praise
    Women In Love

  33. Genevieve  |   Posted on Oct 14th, 2008 +1

    All I can remember about this movie is how much I hated Tea Leoni’s character. And because of that I now hate Tea Leoni, she shouldn’t have done this movie.

  34. ben suitt  |   Posted on Oct 14th, 2008 -1

    AI : Artificial Intelligence – Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, and William Hurt. The worst movie ever.

  35. ben suitt  |   Posted on Oct 14th, 2008 -1

    AI : Artificial Intelligence – Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, and William Hurt. The worst movie ever.

  36. What about Kazaam? It works if you’re willing to consider Shaq an A-list or at least a B-list actor… Just wrote about it at blog.jinni.com.

  37. Liam  |   Posted on Oct 14th, 2008 0

    i think Brothers Solomon is actually really funny. The opening credits alone will have you LOLing harder than you’ve ever LOLed before. Plus it has one of my favorite lines of all time: “There you go again! Making me a better person!” Also, I still say you should do Regarding Henry. Seriously, that movie makes me pray for nuclear winter every time I even hear about it.

    • No, the greatest line in Brothers Solomon is when he finally rejects the superficial blonde then says, “Burn! Facial! Suck it!” and runs off

  38. huh?  |   Posted on Oct 14th, 2008 +1

    i nominate ‘Surfer, Dude’…I have never seen it, but i don’t think i really need to in order to realize how terrible it is (www.surferdudethemovie.com)

  39. Steve Sanders  |   Posted on Oct 14th, 2008 0

    I haven’t seen enough of these bad movies. I must do a good job of avoiding them.

    I can only add Masters of the Universe for the 1000th time. I would love to see it get the full Gabe treatment, it is so funny it hurts!

  40. Tippet  |   Posted on Oct 15th, 2008 0

    I just watched ‘Kids’ and now I think sex is evil and disgusting. Larry Clark must pay.

    • kids is terrible. not because it’s a bad movie, just because it’s disgusting and it makes you want to double bag your entire body and wear a zip up jumpsuit with a padlock on it for the rest of your life.

  41. yup  |   Posted on Oct 15th, 2008 0

    girl, interrupted

  42. Oh, AI. I totally forgot about AfuckingI. That movie is the worst. I mean, I hope I live long enough to be able to hire a male hooker robot that look like Jude Law did, back when I was not so over Jude Law. But as a personal fan of robots, I couldn’t be bothered to give a shit about the kid in AI. I was a little attached to his teddy bear, but not at all concerned with the well being of the movie’s central character, or moved by the fact that he was a sad, “adorable” child. Fuck that little droid. Oh, and stop adding endings onto the movie. It should have ended about 20 minutes in, and also been a musical about male hooker robots.

  43. Gabe, you need to do Waiting. I literally did not laugh once during the entire film, and the worst part about that is that the friends with which I saw it are still quoting it. They thought it was brilliant. It was their Citizen Kane. I want new friends.

  44. The Jane Austen Book Club

  45. angelina jolie  |   Posted on Oct 16th, 2008 -1

    umm… this movie isnt soo bad. its not great, but not even close to other movies on this list. I think the college essay thing was just a stupid way to set up the film and shouldnt be looked to far into. The plot is a little wobbly in some places, but i actually like adam sandlers character

    oh yeah… flor is really hot

  46. beavis  |   Posted on Oct 16th, 2008 0

    im sorry but you are not a good critic. Your reviews of these movies are very poor. you overemphasize aspects of the film that are so secondary that its ridiculous… Do you watch other movies? cuz it almost feels like you cant even tell why these movies are bad

  47. Nicole  |   Posted on Oct 16th, 2008 0

    ‘Hope Floats’ makes me want to cut myself.

  48. If you haven’t already done it, my vote would have to go to Lady in the Water. I rarely turn a movie off, but this one was complete nonsense. Totally unwatchable.

  49. Pat  |   Posted on Oct 16th, 2008 -1

    I’m here to cast my vote for Rent, a film made half a decade too late, based on a play that was both brilliant and completely of it’s time. So many bad choices went into the making of that film, the least of which being using the musical’s original cast ten years removed. Next – The Cider House Rules. So terribly earnest. Ugh! Finally, the Brothers Solomon is funny. Will Forte is genius and the script is well written and completely absurd. That movie gets a pass for the line “that the fuck is the crib” alone.

  50. Nice review, though I suspect Spanglish has enough very watchable scenes to escape the top slot on your final ranking. I also think you simply misunderstood Hudson Hawk.

    Has anyone mentioned Midnight In the Garden Of Good and Evil yet? Because that definitely was trying to be a good movie, definitely had some A-listers in it, and my Lord, is it some kind of awful.

  51. Review the goddamn “The Beach” with Leo DiCaprio!!! BAD. It was given to me as a joke, and we turned it into a visual fruitcake by forcing someone to “borrow” it, and then telling them they can never return it. Bad, bad movie. The “video game” scene alone should be taught in How Not To Film School.

  52. I’ve been thinking, and I realize now that “Spanglish” is just the latest iteration of the mismatched rom-com genre, which you could add “Maid In Manhattan,” “Two Weeks’ Notice,” “Must Love Dogs,” “Music And Lyrics,” and a billion others. The Spanglish review was hilarious, but this entire genre shouldn’t count because they’re not trying to be good movies. On that note, could you take a look at “Mad Love” (Barrymore, Odonell), “Batman And Robin,” “Sphere,” and “As Good As It Gets,” please.

  53. ThomBoh  |   Posted on Oct 19th, 2008 0

    I just got home from the movies and need to make a nomination:

    MAX PAYNE.

    please. it fits every criteria.

    i set the bar pretty low for it, but my god was it was BAD.

  54. adrian  |   Posted on Oct 20th, 2008 0

    I think it was only in theaters for about a week, but I saw it on SCi-Fi channel. Dragon Wars is by far one of the crappiest pieces of crap-filled crap EVER! I don’t know if it has any stars in it unless you count the guy from Roswell or ‘Daryl’ from “The Office”. Just Horrible.

  55. dafs  |   Posted on Oct 22nd, 2008 +2

    After reading this review, my gf made me watch Spanglish, and while we both agree that it is certainly not a good film, it is absolutely nowhere near the worst movie of all time. That’s giving it far more credit than it is worth.

    And as for your point about us not being offered any explanation as to WHY Tea Leoni’s a huge bitch, it’s invalid. At the end, she confronts her mother about causing her neuroses, and the mother basically admits to it.

    Personally, I’m getting kinda annoyed with everyone bringing up every movie that they didn’t enjoy as a nominee for the Worst Movie of All Time. AI, I Heart Huckabees, The Beach….what do you people not understand about this blog? Disappointing movies are not necessarily THE WORST MOVIE OF ALL TIME. I still think Wicker Man is the champion of this fight.

    And seriously, all you MST3K fans…shut the fuck up and read the rules. He’s not going to watch Manos or Hobgoblins.

  56. There are much worse movies than Spanglish. You can watch any movie with the lens of “the worst movie ever” and you will find things to be sarcastic about. There are terrible movies out there, but I can’t believe some of the ones that are being tossed around in these threads.

    Or maybe I’m just not hipster and cynical enough.

  57. Jonas  |   Posted on Nov 8th, 2008 0

    ok it’s not great immortal art, some things about it are kinda stupid, but i didn’t think Spanglish was as insufferable as it’s made out to be in this article. And the granny character, her i liked a lot, she was funny. I think i wanna be like that when i grow old, boozed into blissful oblivion…

  58. Courtney  |   Posted on Nov 29th, 2008 0

    I would definitely agree with ‘Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.’ The only part I liked about that movie was the scenes of Amsterdam. While speaking of lousy romantic comedies such as ‘Because I Said So’ where the hell is ‘Catch and Release.’ So horribly bad and boring, I almost feel asleep.

  59. Aw, I liked this movie. It was a little over the top, sure, but I thought it had heart.

  60. murraystar  |   Posted on Mar 7th, 2009 0

    Please do the Leonardo Dicaprio version of Romeo + Juliet or Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad News Bears!

  61. murraystar  |   Posted on Mar 7th, 2009 0

    I’d also reccomend the 1999 animated version of “The King and I” or “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa”.

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