Blank Check with Griffin and David Wiki

Spanglish is episode 160 focusing on the movie of the same name, as part of the Podcast News miniseries covering the films of James L. Brooks. Posted 22 April 2018.


Give top billing to the sandwich

Ola, Richard Lawson! One of the most frequent guests of the show, with this episode he became just the second member of the Blank Check Five-Timers Club. However, this time he has to talk about Spanglish.

Téa Leoni... is this a terrible performance? Is it an unparalleled performance of bravery? Both! And my god, was this supposed to be an Oscar role?

Adam Sandler - this is like a threshold movie for his career. And like so many other comics and action stars (what up, Mark Wahlberg) who try to pivot to a serious movie role, he kind of just turns everything off and becomes utterly bland. (In retrospect Paul Thomas Anderson looks like a genius of handling actors, because in Punch Drunk Love he found a way to get exactly what he needed out of Sandler without letting him neuter himself.)

This is a weird guilty/class-guilty/white-guilty movie, and its politics are not helped by casting a Spanish actress who spoke no English to play a Mexican woman. Plus Paz Vega's character... isn't a character. And her daughter, whom is definitely named Christina Spanglish, is supposed to be the springpoint of the story but then Brooks keeps losing her in the narrative.

Is this 'college admissions letter' framing device too cute by half? #TheTwoFriends keep saying that James L. Brooks is doing James L. Brooks things, but pretty soon they start talking about how he seems to have lost his calibration for these diamond-cut lines and adorable setups. Is there a good college admissions movie? Me, Earl and the Dying Girl? (Ugh.) Hey, Griffin was almost the boy in Admission, neat.

The first scene where Téa interviews Flor is so goddamn weird & unnerving and it's being pushed so hard at us. Griffin: "It's like Existenz - this is being injected into our spines." Who keeps $50,000 in a coffee mug on the kitchen counter? David: "Every scene of this movie is like the Zapbruder film, where you need to slow it down frame by frame to try and understand."

The Cloris Leachman role was apparently written for Anne Bancroft. Also btw Heartbreakers was underrated, says Griffin.

OMG, the sandwich... it should have been given star billing. Griffin hates eggs, so he's immune to the sandwich's charms.

Griffin theorizes that Brooks started losing his film aesthetic and moving towards all closeups and hitting shots too hard. No subtlety. And his Brooks-y lines aren't serving purpose and are one after another... like the Scott Tobias review says about some Nicolas Cage movie, it's scene after scene of all guitar solos.

Richard has a pastime where he brainstorms L. Brooks movie ideas and lines with Bobby Finger. They have to sound profound and pithy without having any meaning. This line "They should name a gender after you" is trying for it, but oooof, it was bad then but at this point it sounds like a slur. Richard's best work in this arena is "You're the kind of person who's kind of a person." Magnifique.

watching Spanglish

Milestones and Ephemera[]

  • This is one of 4 movies covered on the podcast where the episode is the same length as the movie covered.
  • Ben's Hot Take: He kinda liked this movie. "It's like a Tom Waits song!"
  • What is the secret information that Griffin is holding on to? [Later: turns out it was advance knowledge of the shocking reveal near the end of Solo, the one that left most viewers saying, ".... Huh?"]
  • Awards nominations: no Oscar noms, but AARP Awards nominations aplenty!
  • Politics of You Can't Mess With The Zohan: weird.
  • Griffin's grandmother: under the bus. ("I look at people like that and I wonder, who are they? What lives do they live?")
  • Blank Check Pictures! First up, Sarah Steele stars in The Esther Zuckerman Story
  • Mars 2112: the Times Square restaurant only missed it by a hundred years
  • The poster has the three rich white women all wearing big floppy hats. They've got the dreamer's disease.


RICHARD: Now, I don't have sex with women—
#TheTwoFriends: —Humblebrag! (Retired bit)