In From Prada to Nada, two decked-out, deracinated Mexican-American girls must relinquish their spoiled lifestyle when their father dies and leaves them bankrupt. Forced to move into the East L.A. barrio and go from haute couture to horchata, Nora (the smart one; played by Camilla Belle) and Mary (the shallow one; Alexa Vega) offend the locals, bump heads with cholas, and allow plenty of opportunity for exaggerated fish-out-of-water jokes.
Loosely based on Sense and Sensibility, the transposition of Jane Austen from England to Los Angeles is hit or miss. On the one hand, L.A. is the perfect setting to illustrate the novel’s class concerns. On the other, it’s hard to buy that the threat of spinsterhood hangs heavy over the head of a modern-day 24-year-old. The romantic plots are by-the-number, and while there is the occasional scene that escapes predictability — usually thanks to Babel’s Adriana Barraza — there is a slick-sheen Disney Channel veneer that steers the whole movie towards easy-answer romance, Katy Perry songs, and such cringe-worthy approximations of youthspeak as ”We have joined the working class — lame!” The riches-to-rags story is inoffensive, but for a film ostensibly about the importance of finding a little spice and flavor in your life, From Prada to Nada is surprisingly bland. C-