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From Prada to Nada 

Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility gets the East L.A. treatment.

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Gilmore Girls, Gossip Girl and Easy A have shown how witty, fast-paced, hyper-stylized dialogue and precise, confident acting can make a drama aimed at young women incredibly entertaining.

That’s not the case here. Instead, the young actresses in this 2011 comedy spit out line after line of painfully expositional dialogue, like “What would you know, you’re 24 and you haven’t been kissed,” and “I’ve built my whole life on the one thing i could control, which is my career.”

Mary (the fashionable one) and Nora (the smart one), two wealthy Latina daughters, live in a mansion with their father. But when their dad dies of a heart attack on his birthday in the opening montage, the two daughters discover that their father had been bankrupt all along. Moaning and complaining, they’re forced to move to the east Los Angeles “barrio,” a cartoonish land of leering construction workers and glaring hoodlums.

The contrast between worlds never goes much deeper than “rich Latino people act like this” and “poor Latino people act like this.”

It’s a loose adaption of Sense and Sensibility, in the same way 10 Things I Hate About You is an adaption of Taming of the Shrew.

One problem: The drama of Jane Austen’s 19th century world in Sense and Sensibility — where young society women fret about marrying rich young society men — doesn’t really translate to American women in their early twenties.

And the acting can’t compensate.

In the opening hour, alexa Vega (Spy Kids), as Mary, acts less like an actual spoiled girl, and more like a spoiled girl playing a spoiled girl in a high school play.

In the final half-hour, the actresses loosen up and even have a sort of charming charisma. But by then, the audience has watched far too much ambling, whining and exposition to care. (rated PG-13)


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