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From Prada to Nada

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
BARELY LEGAL Belle hits the law books.

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Clueless successfully transplanted Jane Austen's Emma to '90s Beverly Hills. From Prada to Nada attempts a similar feat with Sense and Sensibility, and if the results are nowhere near as witty, there's enough skeletal source material to keep the proceedings engaging. Two sisters---frumpy aspiring lawyer Nora (Belle) and vain college socialite Mary (Vega)---find their lives upended when their secretly debt-ridden father dies. The house falls into the hands of their half-brother's snotty wife, prompting the girls to relocate from Rodeo Drive luxury to life with their ta (Barraza) in East L.A.

There are the predictable cooking mishaps and other fish-out-of-water gags. But eventually the siblings commune with their Mexican heritage. Nora learns Spanish and threatens a lawsuit against a company exploiting local workers, while Mary tries to bag a caddish Lorca scholar (Kuno Becker) and suppress her feelings for a rough-exteriored neighbor (Wilmer Valderrama). If the effort to shoehorn Austen's social commentary into a modern context sometimes seems nonsensical or forced, the actors---especially now-grown Spy Kid Vega---have charm to spare. That's better than nada, indeed.

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Written by Ben Kenigsberg
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