Spanglish - the new film from James L Brooks, writer/director of As Good As It Gets - tells what happens when a single Mexican mother called Flor (Paz Vega) and her 12-year-old daughter, Cristina (Shelbie Bruce) come into the household of an affluent, totally dysfunctional Los Angeles family.
Although Flor has been in America for some years before she is hired as housekeeper for the Clasky family, she is still unable to speak a word of English. That apparently does not seem to matter to Deborah Clasky (Tea Leoni), a highly-strung, overpowering woman whose actions - although often well meaning - usually end up being hurtful. Her hysterical condition is not helped by the fact that she has just lost her job and her role as housewife and mother is attacked with the same ferocious competitiveness. In contrast, her husband, John (Adam Sandler), is a laid back, successful chef who is currently having a problem coping with the pressure that his restaurants recently awarded four-star rating will bring. John loves his wife but is finding it increasingly difficult to deal with her erratic behaviour.
The Claskys have two kids - Georgie (Ian Hyland) and Bernice (Sarah Steele), a young girl often humiliated by Deborah who is unable to handle her slight pudginess and so tries to encourage her to lose weight by buying her clothes that are too small for her. Also living with them is Deborahs mother, Evelyn (Cloris Leachman), an alcoholic, one-time singer with a quick wit and some wise advice.
At first, Flor tries to remain strictly an employee and to be uninvolved in the emotional insecurities of the family, but she is unable to maintain this detachment when she and Cristina join them for their summer vacation. The inevitably interfering Deborah begins to take more of an interest in Cristina than in her own children and Flor fears that her daughter may become estranged from her. As this situation unfolds, Flor and John slowly find that they are being drawn to each other.