Rags to riches? Vice-versa is the base of "From Prada To Nada" adapted from Jane Austen’s "Sense And Sensibility". Rich to middle-class is tough enough to handle, forget poor! Nora (Camilla Belle) and Mary (Alexa Vega) have to come to terms with not only the loss of their father but also the accompanying loss of money, courtesy their father’s debts.
To add to the nightmare an illegitimate half- brother shows up at the funeral, along with his conniving gold- digging wife, and buys their childhood home off them with the ultimate aim of re-selling it. While Mary, the extravagant sibling has a hard time digesting reality, Nora, the law student has her head firmly on her shoulders and makes future decisions for both.
Camilla is superior not only in character but skill as well. She outshines Alexa who is appropriately annoying and whiny but nerve-gratingly so. Her condescending attitude towards their new residence makes her seem more like a mixed-breed than a pedigree. The new address is Aunt Adriana’s place in a Mexican neighborhood in East LA.
While Nora adapts happily to her loud, chirpy surroundings drowned in Spanish and enchiladas, Mary is desperate to get back to Beverly Hills. The culture rich neighborhood is something the Indian audience won’t be able to relate to. The mannerisms, slang and jokes are very Mexican and combined with the constant string of Spanish can get a bit disorienting.
As Nora and Mary cope with a job and the chore of graduating respectively the love angle is introduced. A few mistakes and misjudgments aspire to add spice to the mundane script but predictably so. Wilmer Valderrama is a relief with his rugged charm and drawing screen presence in the sea of amateur performances. The enthusiasm of the gesticulating Mexican ladies is charming and represents the population that is still proud of their roots and ancestors.
Ultimately the story boils down to accepting one’s culture, the importance of family and finding happiness in what life hands out. The down side is you feel like you are intruding upon some one else’s life and maintaining a daily account of it because it’s so disinteresting you forget what happened two scenes ago. It’s a story that is put out there for no evident reason, and is just thrown together to indulge the extreme characters.
“From Prada To Nada” seems over indulgent and whimsical but in a dull manner. Perfect for bubble gum chewing teenagers and wannabe California girls.