February 26th, 2015
MOVIE: ANA MARIA IN NOVELA LAND
STARRING: EDY GANEM; LUIS GUZMAN; MERCEDES MASON; ELIZABETH PENA; MICHAEL STEGER; NESTOR SERRANO
DIRECTED BY: GEORGINA GARCIA RIEDEL
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
Ana Maria in Novela Land needs more reviews from critics like myself, because this is a charming movie. It pokes fun at telenovela’s, and If you have an idea of how outrageous these kinds of television shows are, then you will understand why “Ana Maria” is a fun spin on the genre. It helps when the entire cast has just as much fun as viewers will have watching, and Director Georgina Garcia Riedel’s film is an enjoyable romp, that does not take life too seriously.
It may be considered “old hat” today to make a body switch movie. Movies of the past such as, “Big”, “Freaky Friday” or even “13 going on 30”, survived because the gimmick works well for a comedy situation and the lead actors were big stars, the likes of Tom Hanks or Jennifer Garner. “Novela Land” may not have any of those names, but it hopes to make stars of the ones they do. Edy Ganem stars as Ana, a woman in her mid twenty’s that spends her days dreaming about her favorite show “Pasion Sin Limites”. It all gives Ana an escape, as she wishes everything was as entertaining as the twist and turns of Telenovela’s.
We find Ana not wanting to do her job, which leads to her getting fired. On top of that, she also forgot to show up for the dress fitting for her sister’s (Mercedes Mason) upcoming wedding. Ana has her head in her phone and mind on what will happen on tonights episode. When Ana gets home she hears a lecture from both her mother (played by the late Elizabeth Pena) and sister, then plops on the couch to live-tweet her show. Only this time, a freak lightning strike switches Ana into Novela Land and the lead “sexy” temptress Ariana (also played by Ganem) into Ana’s real world life.
With the recent success of a show like the CW’s “Jane The Virgin”, “Novela Land” capitalizes on adorable young Latin stars beaming with confidence. This is a star turn for Ganem that will lead to more work, I am certain. Her dual roles are so convincing that she had me believing it was two different actresses. Director Georgina Garcia Riedel does such an excellent job satirizing the ridiculousness of telenovela’s as well. When Ana asks to use the bathroom she is confused to find a room without toilets. I mean have you ever seen someone use the bathroom on these shows? It’s not a stretch of plot when Ariana/Ana falls in love with Armando (Michael Steger) although she is supposed to marry his father Eduardo (Juan Pablo Gamboa). All of this takes place while the conniving lawyer Licenciado Schmidt (the always good- Luis Guzman) plans to blackmail them with photos and back handed slaps!
It is also important to note that this was the last performance of actress Elizabeth Pena, who passed from liver complication. Her role as Ana’s mother is a comforting farewell role as her performance shows the elegant grace she had. It is sad to see how talented the “Rush Hour” star was, but this film will leave a nice lasting memory.
As Ana searches for herself among the drama, she will begin to see what is important in her life and what is just pretend. Ana Maria in Novela Land has a heartfelt message of family and fun, all at the expense of telenovela silliness. It is a movie that deserves a bigger audience that isn’t just it’s focused Hispanic community, but a movie for everyone to see how talented those involved truly are. If this movie is available where you are, I hope you choose to have fun with “Ana Maria”.
Written By: Leo Brady