Flicks Between Cultures: Spanglish

I never thought I'd be recommending a movie starring Adam Sandler. In Spanglish, though, Sandler shows the kind of acting of which he's capable. But the heart of the film is Cristina Morena, the pre-teen daughter of a Mexican maid who works in an upscale Los Angeles home. The tug-of-war between cultures as experienced by smart immigrant kids is seen clearly in this character. Especially poignant to me were the scenes where Cristina has to translate adult conversations so that her Mom is able to express anger. At the end, her mother asks a pivotal question: "When you grow up, do you want to be something completely different than me, your mother?" Immigrant teens will resonate with the the difficulty of answering that question, even as they cheer for Cristina to choose wisely. Ultimately, we hope that we, too, will recognize the beauty of character and resist the glitter of false prosperity. (Recommended for high school students because of mature themes. Watch and discuss after reading First Crossing: Stories About Teen Immigrants.)

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