The fuss is good free publicity for the film, but it also raises expectations to an unsustainable level. This film tells the story of Ana (Ferrera), a young Mexican-American woman in Los Angeles. Her father is a gardener and her mother (Ontiveros) is a seamstress, a traditional and superstitious woman who weeps over her telenovelas. Ana has graduated from high school, and despite the encouragement of a teacher, she assents to her family's wishes that she go to work in her older sister's sweatshop.
The most interesting scenes in the film are its glimpses of Mexican-American life in Los Angeles. In particular, we learn the details of the garment trade: The sweatshops get $18 per dress, each in turn to be retailed for $600. Beyond that, the plot is more than a little shopworn. Will Ana find love this summer? Will she find a way to realize her dreams of college, without severing ties to her family?
The film has gotten attention for its muchacha-power theme that stresses positive body images for plump girls. Ferrera's Ana is a little hefty, but she refuses to hide her curves, and indeed strikes up a romance with a gringo classmate.
Actually, the film doesn't make enough of the body image issue. For one thing, there are obvious contradictions between the admirable, be-happy-with-yourself message of this film and the steady drumbeat of public health alarms about America's increasing waistline. Maybe a few scenes at Mickey D's would have been apropos--surely those huevos rancheros can't bear all the blame.