Published Feb 03, 2011Allegedly based on Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility (though rather more visibly indebted to Clueless), From Prada to Nada takes the familiar story of two rich, entitled girls (the studious one played by Camille Belle and the loves-to-shop one essayed by Alexa Vega) being forcibly removed from their glamorous lifestyles and sent to a relative slum (in this case, East L.A.), except this time it's with a "Latina twist." In other words, sitcom-level cultural stereotypes alternate with aggressively earnest, heart-tugging scenes explaining how hard it is for a poor Mexican in a big American city.
From Prada to Nada suffers from lumpy pacing (several romantic entanglements, plus a corporate corruption storyline compete for screen time), murky cinematography and a storyline that's relentlessly predictable. Gee, I wonder if Belle will end up with the good-hearted young lawyer (Nicholas D'Agosto) and if Vega will end up with the similarly good-hearted, though decidedly rougher-edged, handyman neighbour (cinema legend Wilmer Valderrama). The light comedy is never funny and Belle and Vega are stuck playing such broad archetypes it's almost insulting when the movie asks us to care about them.
But the real problem is how the film tries to have it both ways by relying almost exclusively on Latina stereotypes (the house has a roomful of illegal immigrant workers and is presided over by a kindly Latin matriarch with plenty of homespun wisdom) and then pandering to the audience, going after easy targets like white-collar executives who cheat the migrant workers out of wages. Boo, hiss, etcetera. (Maple)