From Prada to Nada (2011)

<strong class="MovieTitle">From Prada to Nada</strong> (2011)

(On Cable TV, April 2012) Nearly everything about From Prada to Nada‘s marketing (title, poster, premise) can lead anyone to expect a sub-par brainless comedy not far away from superficial dreck such as The Hottie and the Nottie.  The surprise is in finding out that this is a textured look at Los Angeles’ Latino community based on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.  It starts on a rough note, as two sisters are expelled from their house after the death of their insolvent father.  Forced to an exile in East L.A., they find that… oh, let’s face it: surprising plotting really isn’t one of From Prada to Nada‘s strong points. This romantic comedy is almost entirely predictable even if you haven’t read Austen, and much of the charm of the film lies in how well it hits the expected plot points.  Camilla Belle is adorable as the sensible sister, and while it take a while for Alexa Vega’s Lindsey Lohan-lookalike to develop some audience sympathy, events eventually manage to win her over to the audience’s side.   Otherwise, the real strength of the film is in its upbeat look at the South Californian Mexican-American sub-culture (The fact that the Latina protagonists don’t initially speak Spanish is one of the film’s running gags.)  The dialogue isn’t anything special, the jokes are lazy, the character are stock figures and the direction is rarely inspired, but the film is nonetheless quite a bit warmer than expected.  Austen fans will like the flavour given to this adaptation, while those looking for a middle-of-the-road romantic comedy won’t be too disappointed.

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