That's what I thought.
Pity then poor Ana (newcomer America Ferrara), who finds herself in just that situation. Why, even when her teacher (George Lopez) helps her get into college on full scholarship, Ana's mother (Lupe Ontiveros, best known for roles in As Good As It Gets and Selena) guilts her into staying at home.
Contrary to its title, Real Women Have Curves is not really about the weight of ladies -- though all of the females in the show are quite curvy. Rather, it's a movie about family dynamics (Hispanic dynamics in particular), telling us that while family is important, it shouldn't be everything. Ana's mother is such a caricature -- she pretends she's pregnant to get sympathy and she uses every trick imaginable to bend her family too her will -- it's hard to believe Ana didn't run away from home at the age of 12. When her scholarship to Columbia comes through, mom asks whether Ana doesn't want to stay home to care for her grandfather (who doesn't even seem to need caring for), and Ana agrees. Pshaw, I say.
While Curves is a bit too fanciful -- a fairy tale complete with oppressive siblings and a happy ending -- it's a light and generally fun event. Ferrara has so much natural charisma her limited acting experience doesn't really show. And Ontiveros is as memorable here as always, bringing back that old familiar guilt from decades of ignoring your parents with every look of tired agony on her face.
There are no big budget effects, no villains to hate (how can you hate your mother?), no contrived tearjerkiness. Instead, Real Women Have Curves lays everything out just as written (and as inspired by the autobiographical play that preceded it). Nothing wrong with that, but don't expect many surprises, either.
Run time: 90 mins
In Theaters: Friday 8th November 2002
Box Office USA: $5.7M
Distributed by: HBO Films
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Fresh: 70 Rotten: 14
IMDB: 7.0 / 10
Director: Patricia Cardoso