Self-respect, self-confidence and self-empowerment are the rah-rah-rah themes of "Real Women Have Curves," a winning, if a little pandering, coming-of-age indie about a East Los Angeles Latina with a vexatious mother, a generous figure and an admirable amount of gumption.
Inspired by Josefina Lopez's autobiographical underground stage hit that premiered at San Francisco's Teatro de la Esperanza in 1990, the film centers on 18-year-old Ana (talented and appealing newcomer America Ferrera), a girl whose intelligence and ambition have always met with frustrating discouragement from her traditional family.
Freshly graduated from a Beverly Hills high school that she rode two busses every day to attend, Ana is being encouraged to apply for scholarships by a teacher who sees her potential. But her meddling, small-minded mother (the fantastic Lupe Ontiveros, "Chuck and Buck") is determined that Ana should become an additional family breadwinner by working in her sister's struggling dress factory.
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