From Prada To Nada (2011)

Rating: ★½☆☆☆ 

        

Starring:  Camilla Belle, Alexa Vega, Wilmer Valderrama, Nicholas D’Agosto, Kuno Becker, Adriana Barraza, Pablo Cruz, April Bowlby, Karla Souza, Alexis Ayalia, Catalina Lopez, Luis Rosales, Norma Reina.
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Director:  Angel Gracia
Rating:  PG-13
Running Time:  107 Mins.
Release Date:  January 28, 2011
Home Video Release Date:  May 3, 2011
Box Office: $3.0 Million
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Lionsgate, Televisa, Odd Lot Entertainment, Gilbert Films, Gothan Music Placement, and Pantelion Films.

Written by:  Fina Torres, Luis Alfaro, and Craig Fernandez, adapted from the novel “Sense & Sensibility” by Jane Austen.

“I love poetry and Prada…don’t wake up before 10, and no hablo espanol…”- Mary Dominguez (Alexa Vega).  

Following the unexpected death of their father at his birthday celebration, two sisters, Nora and Mary Dominguez, find their entire world turned upside down.  Certainly the death of a parent is a devastating experience to endure, but for Nora and Mary (Camilla Belle, Alexa Vega) they not only have lost their father but they have also learned that the father was a bit reckless with the massive family fortune.  At their father’s Will reading, they learn that he not only hid the family’s financial troubles but that he also withheld the fact that he was bankrupt and essentially destitute.

Meeting Gabe, a brother they never knew they had (Pablo Cruz), Nora and Mary learn that Gabe and his wife, Olivia (April Bowlby), are taking over the palatial Dominguez estate and possession of everything in it (?!?), so naturally Olivia evicts the girls at the first opportunity she has.  With no money and nowhere to go, Nora and Mary drive to East L.A. and are taken in by a kind-hearted aunt (Adriana Barraza) the girls barely know.

Nora is a law student and rather grounded despite her upbringing and Mary is a spoiled socialite wannabe who lives in a materialistic world.  And so, the culture shock elements are here, along with love stories for each sister, including two for the younger Mary, a legal subplot that exists for no real reason, and a whole lot of eulogizing about the importance of family, connecting to one’s culture, and numerous other life lessons crammed into a 107 minute movie.

I really have no clue where to begin with “From Prada To Nada”.  Stuffed with endless cliches from numerous other more enjoyable films, the film is watchable but vacant of logic.  Loosely, and I stress the word loosely, adapted from Jane Austen’s classic novel “Sense and Sensibility”, Camilla Belle and Alexa Vega may have some chemistry together as two sisters embodying two completely different personalities, but the words they speak, the decisions they make, and the situations they place themselves in are devoid of any intelligence whatsoever.  The characters are painted in broad strokes and fit each and every distinctive stereotype you can imagine.  Haphazard in its tone, you begin to wonder if you are seeing the film through the eyes of the spoiled brat sister or the compassionate law student advocate.  Often the scenes play at odds with one another and nothing gels effectively.

“From Prada To Nada” is part of an initiative between Lionsgate and Mexican broadcasting giant Televisa to bring a series of Latin-themed motion pictures to the big screen, similar to the success Lionsgate has achieved with Tyler Perry’s African-American themed projects.  So, perhaps there is somewhat of a cultural divide regarding my thoughts on “From Prada To Nada”.  Yet when taking all things into account – the storyline, the bounceback between comedy, drama, romance, the stereotypical caricatures we are supposed to embrace and accept, very little redeems itself and the film just feels disingenuous.

I applaud Lionsgate for looking to branch out and bring more cultural themes and topics to wider audiences and sincerely hope that other films in this partnership reap great awards for all involved.  Sadly, “From Prada To Nada” is deficient in every element I envision this film series is supposed to entail.  In that regard, this film is a tremendous disappointment.

SHOULD I SEE IT?

YES 

The romantic comedy genre always perks some interest and the fact that is largely an all Latino cast will perhaps make this seem fresh and unique.

Fans of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” will be intrigued to see another take on the classic source material.

The film looks and feels like something you would find on ABC Family or a similar-style network.  If you are fan of the channel or those Made-for-Cable movies, then you will like this I would imagine.

 

NO  

The film is a hodgepodge of comedy, drama, romance, cultural and racial themes, and the film never feels original or genuine.  Ultimately, its message is so painfully obvious and heavy-handed that the whole film feels rather pointless.

I would imagine that Jane Austen purists who try and watch this would feel as if the army of screenwriters have somewhat desecrated the source material.

The film looks and feels like something you would find on ABC Family or a similar-style network.  This is not a strong launch to the Lionsgate/Televisa partnership and should make audiences worry if they are looking forward to what may be coming in the future.