(out of 5)

A little girl’s application to Princeton University is the subject of this dreadful comedy-drama. She relates, in badly written narration, the story of how she was raised by her Mexican mother (Spanish actress ) in Los Angeles while working as a housekeeper for a thoroughly messed up family led by and . The family’s story is also carefully examined, with Sandler the put-upon chef who is trying to keep the clan together while Leoni’s monstrous neuroses threaten to tear them completely apart. The listless dialogue and bland characters keep going forever while we have to suffer Leoni’s overacting in an atrociously unidimensional role, while Sandler and Vega enjoy a mild flirtation that is not nearly as subtle or delicate as it wants to be.  has the best moments as Leoni’s alcoholic mother, but her function seems poised on being the key to much of the dramatic conflict and writer-director James L. Brooks never finds a way for her to accomplish this. All the storylines are unresolved, and the characters are unusually cardboard considering that this is the writer of Broadcast News and Terms Of Endearment.  The worst film possible for all involved, especially Brooks, who is directing his first film since the wonderful As Good As It Gets.

Columbia Pictures Corporation, Gracie Films

USA, 2004

Directed by

Screenplay by James L. Brooks

Cinematography by

Produced by , James L. Brooks,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by ,

Film Editing by

Golden Globe Awards 2004

Screen Actors Guild Awards 2004.  

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