Studio: Sony Pictures (released Dec. 17)
Storyline: Upscale Westside L.A. couple — a four-star chef played by Adam Sandler and his high-strung trophy wife, Tea Leoni. They hire a nanny from Mexico (Spanish actress Paz Vega), who doesn’t speak English, to help take care of their two kids and her mother. When the nanny’s daughter joins the equation, questions of cultural identity, parenthood, marriage and fidelity come to a boil.
About the script: Says Brooks: “I think the best thing you can achieve, if you are lucky, are characters that linger in your mind. … (So) people feel they really know what makes them tick, and have a real reaction to them.”
Biggest challenge: “The kids’ characters: You don’t want them to be generic children. They should be interesting and funny, and you should know what sets them apart and what they are like on the inside. “Also, the last thing in the world I wanted was subtitles. I just don’t think you can do a realistic picture with people fully experiencing the characters if they are reading.”
Breakthrough idea: When Brooks decided, based on his encounter with a Guatemalan woman and her daughter who once worked in his home, to conduct a year’s worth of interviews with immigrant women to examine the clash of cultures they experienced in L.A.
Standout scene(s): According to Brooks: “The translation scene is the longest comedy scene I ever put together. It points to what the picture is about. The orgasm scene (involving Leoni and Sandler) was just so fun to do.”
Choice line: Cloris Leachman to Tea Leoni as she’s having her 19th nervous breakdown: “Lately your low self-esteem is just good common sense.”
Writer’s bio: An Emmy-winning writer and producer for shows such as “The Simpsons,” “Taxi” and “Mary Tyler Moore,” Brooks hit a home run in his first feature, “Terms of Endearment” (1983), which copped five Oscars including picture, director and screenplay adaptation. Of his three ensuing films, two have been nominated by the Academy for picture and screenplay: “Broadcast News” and “As Good as It Gets.”