I almost passed on this one thinking it was one of those vapid films about girls and shopping and superficiality, etc. Well, I was only half right and not to mention I wasn’t paying any attention to the actual title but to the two hottie actresses on the cover of the box. Then I read the title and got a chuckle, because that is a funny title. The fact that I am also Mexican may have contributed to me wanting to see it. I’m always up for a laugh when it comes at my people’s expense. I like George Lopez, so what can I say? Will From Prada to Nada pass the muster or will it be a stereotypical snoozefest at the Latino community’s expense?
From Prada to Nada is the story of two spoiled rich sisters played by Camilla Bell and Alexa Vega who live it up in Beverly Hills on their rich dad’s dime. Well, not both, just one of them. The other one is your typical shy (but super hot) bookworm that no matter how much they dress her down will still be the “ugly-hot girl.” When their father suddenly dies they are left to pick up the pieces and move forward. If it were only that easy. Unbeknownst to them the family was bankrupt. Life would never be the same again until their aunt takes them in to live with her in the mean streets of East Los Angeles. Oh boy, will hijinx ever ensue!
From Prada to Nada was originally going to be called Sense Y Sensibilidad (Sense and Sensibility). They did good in changing the name, because the latter title isn’t as marketable, but considering the box office take on the title that they did go with it really wouldn’t of mattered. We have seen the same type of humor many times before. This is cliched at best, and I have not read the Jane Austen works either.
To say that Nora (Bell) and Mary (Vega) are street smart or street saavy would be a major understatement. Get ready for the stereo typical jokes! Their aunt is played by Adrianna Barraza who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Babel. She is the only reason why From Prada to Nada gets a two star. She’s awesome and genuine. Everyone else is a caricature, and I’m really getting tired of Hollywood casting non-Mexicans for Mexican roles. We do not all look or talk alike. Wilmer Valderamma is anything but Mexican, and Bell and Vega aren’t either. One of the most glaring unintentional goofs that I noticed were the bad make up jobs on both actresses. Vega is orange and they drowned Bell in heavy olive based make-up to give her a more “ethnic” look. As a former special effects make-up artist these trivial little things don’t escape my eyes that easily.
I do give props to the production team, because they shot 99% of the film in Monterey, Mexico which doubled for East L.A. I’ve been to East Los and can tell you that they got the look down proper. I didn’t know it wasn’t East Los until I watched the supplements. Another thing that I noticed was that a lot of ADR (or post audio dubbing for short) was used over many of the actors including the extras and some of the not so important characters. I’m sure many local Mexicans were cast just for their appearance and then dubbed over. It wasn’t distracting, but I noticed.
I do wish that the script had been a bit (or a lot) more polished than what we got. I do give major points for going out there and providing entertainment for the Latino community. I just hope that the next time a film is made about us that the filmmakers or powers that be actually cast the real deal. People can detect authenticity and if it’s not authentic it won’t fly, and it won’t matter how good looking the leads are. I think Antonio Banderas is the only person that can play a convincing Mexican. Watch the Desperado movies and And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself to see what I mean.
From Prada to Nada is presented in 1080p 16X9 1.78:1 widescreen. From Prada to Nada was filmed on a lower than usual budget and it sort of shows. I will say the the few real location shots of Southern California and Beverly Hills look the best. The sun was shining bright and the environment looked lush and life like on the screen. Once the scenes and mood shift over to the other side of town the image does take a turn for the worst. Softness and bits of edge enhancement creep up. Flesh tones look realistic for everyone but the two leads. They still remain orange and extremely blotchy olive. There is a thin layer of grain that remains consistent throughout most of the picture. From Prada to Nada looks as good as it should.
From Prada to Nada is presented in DTS -HD Master Audio 5.1. This more like it. Dialogue is centered and consistent and I had no problem listening to what was being said. There are more than a few music cues sprinkled throughout the film that make great use of the surrounds and LFE. The surrounds also do a good job of picking up the chatter in the house. This is a big Mexican family and people do speak loudly to each other even when they’re standing 2 feet in front of you. I was more than satisfied with the audio on this Blu-ray.
I am impressed! From Prada to Nada has a few hours worth of combined special features that, for the most part, don’t come off as fluff or self congratulatory. In this day and age that’s not always the case. There are several in depth interviews with the producers, director, and the cast that really shine a light on what they were all trying to go for with From Prada to Nada. These supplements sort of balance out the overall the package. They are also presented in HD and SD.
- From Prada to Nada featurette
- “SPARC Your Imagination With Judy and Wilmer” featurette
- “My Family, Mi Familia” featurette
- Deleted Scenes
- Theatrical Trailer
Strong technical specs and a nice amount (in length) of extras give From Prada to Nada a higher than average score. The film is pretty mediocre that suffers from too many cliches and is not always authentic in its depiction of Latinos. It is a cute film and the leads are pretty hot, but overall as a film it fails. If you’re really that curious I would suggest a rental before buying.
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