From Prada to Nada
starring Camilla Belle and Alexa Vega
Sisters Nora (Camilla Belle) and Mary (Alexa Vega) Dominguez live a lavish life in Beverly Hills with their adoring and energetic dad. When he dies unexpectedly, family secrets are revealed. First, Nora and Mary have an illegitimate half brother Gabriel and second, their father left them with nothing. Gabriel and his greedy wife Olivia buy the Dominguez family home and allow the sisters to live there until they're ready to move, as Fanny Dashwood does in the original. When the situation becomes intolerable, the girls move in with their aunt in East LA. East LA is a world apart from Beverly Hills and at first the girls feel uncomfortable. They don't speak Spanish and the culture of the hood is very different from Beverly Hills. Nora adapts quickly and enjoys helping the poor immigrants fight corporate America with the help of her handsome boss and sister-in-law's brother, Edward Ferris (Nicholas D'Agosto). She tries to fight her growing attraction to Edward and stick to her 10 year career plan. Mary wants nothing more than to go back to Beverly Hills. She fears Bruno (Wilmer Valdereama), a local boy (alias Colonel Brandon) who is always hanging around (wearing hoodies instead of flannel waistcoats). She sees her chance to get her old life back with her sexy literature TA. She gains a new appreciation for Mexican culture through the poetry Rodrigo teaches but still thinks she can have it all until one fateful night that changes everything.
I can't really comment on the plot without spoilers so be forewarned. Jane Austen would not recognize this story. Her story really doesn't translate well to a direct plot to plot retelling. This movie cuts out the subplot about Eliza and Lucy is introduced after Edward declares his feelings for Nora. The girls are not so much sense and sensibility as nerdy and ditzy. Mary is in the model of Cher from Clueless while Nora is intelligent and career-driven. Normally I would rejoice in a heroine like Nora, but contrasted with Mary she becomes dowdy and awkward. She's boiled down to a stereotypical nerd with more interest in books than boys. I would have liked her to be sexy and smart and have Mary not be so stereotypical Beverly Hills socialite. I do like how Mary grows and learns to be more like Nora, but in the short time allotted (the movie is under two hours), her development is very quick. Edward is a great character but not developed very well either. He's a perfect hero in every way until he meets Lucy. Then there's a gaping plot hole that doesn't make any sense whatsoever and isn't even explained. Rodgrigo is easy to pin down for anyone who knows the story. I wondered how they would handle him and I guessed his secret. Bruno is the Colonel Brandon character. He reveals hidden depths but his character isn't developed enough and the romance at the end is too rushed to make a lot of sense.
I like the Mexican culture aspects, but it seemed very stereotypical to me. Beverly Hills is also portrayed stereotypically. Maybe LA actually is like that?
This is a cute, fluffy movie that's good for a flight or a fun summer date with the TV. I wouldn't pay to watch it.