Who's In It: Camilla Belle, Alexa Vega, Adriana Barraza, Wilmer Valderrama, Nicholas D'Agosto
The Basics: When their widowed father dies unexpectedly, two young Mexican-American rich girls from Beverly Hills are left penniless, so they move in with their aunt (Academy Award nominee Adriana Barraza) in East L.A. and are required to learn hard lessons about what's really important in life. Yes, this is sort of the same plot as the Hilary and Haylie Duff barfgasm Material Girls, just not nearly as offensively stupid. In fact, this one has aspirations to be an adaptation of Sense and Sensibility and occasionally even hits the bullseye. You kind of need to be told that explicitly to get the very loose connections, but it has the same headstrong heroine and a kindhearted Mr. Darcy stand-in, too. Of course, Jane Austen never could have imagined anything as awesome as a crew of thuggish cholas loitering outside the house, so points for the update on that one.
What's The Deal: How well you stand this movie will depend on your tendency to see a glass half full or half empty. For example, the premise hinges on a family history that doesn't make much sense. The two main characters were, ostensibly, raised by a man they both describe as "soooo Mexican" and devoted to the concept of family, yet he never saw fit to teach them to know and love their darling auntie or to ever bring them across town to her home. And there's a cheap sitcom quality to all of it, almost like an even more hastily made Tyler Perry movie. BUT...
What's The Other Deal: It's smarter than you think it's going to be based on its idiotic title and, more importantly, consistently gets by on its good-natured and warm-hearted charms. No one is demeaned or insulted, no one is overly humiliated (unless you count the indirect comeuppance that befalls Alexa Vega's character for being shallow and having sex) and everyone receives forgiveness for most of for their character flaws, even if they don't really deserve it. It aims to please and it succeeds much more often than you'd expect. That's what I get for assuming too much when they decided not to screen it for critics.
Weirdest Thing, Not Counting a Plot Moment That Involves One of The Aunt's Friends Deciding to Whip Out The Witchy Folk Medicine On A Hospitalized Character: The makeup. Both Belle and Vega appear to be wearing a strange amount of brown sprayed all over their faces and bodies. Due to the low budget and odd lighting, they appear at various points in the movie to be extra-tan, browner-than-extra-tan, orange, orange-brown and even a sort of fluourescent gray-green. You forgive it but you don't forget it.