Ana Maria in Novela Land (NR)

Comedy 93 min. February 27, 2015
By Chuck Wilson
The setup is more fun than the payoff in this ambitious new take on the identity-switch comedy. Ana Maria (Edy Ganem) is 24, and so obsessed with blogging and tweeting about her favorite Mexican telenovela that she can't keep a job, much to the dismay of her parents (Nestor Serrano and Elizabeth Peña). Ana longs to live as passionately as the show's heaving-bosom heroine, Ariana Tomasa (also played by Ganem), who is, of course, torn between two lovers.

During a lightning storm, Ana and Ariana magically switch places, but only the women realize it. Director Georgina Riedel (How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer) and co-writer Jose Nestor Marquez have fun with their heroines' respective confusion — Ana is surprised that her TV lover (Michael Steger) doesn't know to use his tongue when kissing, while Ariana learns that slapping people is not normal, everyday behavior. By its nature, the telenovela world is funnier than ours, but here it's never as inspired as you might hope. Ganem and her talented co-stars work hard, but Riedel's pacing is always a beat or two behind their mad energy, making for a film that's enormously appealing but not quite addicting.
Georgina Riedel Elizabeth Peña, Mercedes Mason, Tamara Taylor, Sung Kang, Luis Guzmán, Edy Ganem, Megan Hayes, Michael Steger, Sosie Bacon, Nestor Serrano Jose Nestor Marquez, Georgina Riedel Fluency Studios

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