The Devil Wears Prada
Would you like socks with that?
By Devin D. O’Leary
The Devil Wears Prada
Directed by David Frankel
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci
There was a publishing trend a few years back whereby lowly wage slaves were paid exorbitant amounts of money to squeal on their snooty, slave-driving bosses. Hence, we were treated to a rush of tell-all books like Wannabe (written by a personal assistant in Hollywood), The Nanny Diaries (written by a private nanny to rich New Yorkers) and The Devil Wears Prada (written by an executive secretary in the fashion industry) that informed us--juicily, if a bit predictably--rich and famous people suck as employers.
Naturally, any trend in the publishing industry will eventually flow downhill to the movie industry, and several years later, we find ourselves facing feature film versions of these catty odes to unemployment. The Nanny Diaries, starring Scarlett Johansson will hit theaters next year. The Devil Wears Prada catwalked into theaters last weekend.
Anne Hathaway, trying--though not too hard--to shed her cute Disney image from The Princess Diaries, stars as Andrea Sachs, an intelligent but unfashionable college grad looking for a job in New York’s cutthroat publishing industry. The only job she can find is as an assistant to the assistant to the editor of a glossy fashion magazine. The only problem is the editor of Runway magazine, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), is a notorious dragon lady whose cruel and single-minded demeanor has chased away dozens of assistants (not to mention assistants to the assistants).
But our plucky heroine figures she can handle just about anything. So she shows up at work every day, enduring the nasty taunts of her oh-so-chic coworkers and hoping against hope for just one kind word from her icy boss lady. No such luck.
Streep is clearly having fun here, portraying her character not as a shrieking harridan, but as a supremely snooty New York power broker who would rather raise eyebrow than voice to convey supreme disappointment (a feeling she directs toward, well, pretty much every other human being on the planet). Lauren Weisberg, who wrote the original novel, worked for a time as an assistant to the infamous Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue--so it isn’t hard to believe the accuracy of Streep’s character.
At first, Andrea sticks to her guns, remaining the same wide-eyed, sweater-wearing journalist she was when she walked in the door. After a rousing pep talk about the sociological import of Gucci handbags and Monolo Blahnik shoes by the magazine’s design director (Stanley Tucci), Andy decides it’s time to immerse herself in the world of high fashion. Following a patented Pretty Woman movie makeover, Andy emerges as a fashion-plate go-getter, suddenly able to anticipate her demanding boss’ every whim.
But, in succumbing to the dark side of eyelash curlers and black satin pumps, is Andrea giving up on her dreams? Of course she is! The second our gal starts hobnobbing with the “Project Runway” crowd, she ignores her friends and dumps her down-to-earth boyfriend (Adrian Grenier from “Entourage”). Will she hold on to her old-fashioned integrity or give it all up for a trip to Fashion Week in Paris? Sheesh. What do you think?
It would be difficult to accuse The Devil Wears Prada of having a particularly surprising plotline. You should be able to figure out every meager twist and turn from the trailer. Still, despite a plot as thin as French silk, the whole gay affair is competently assembled and staffed with likable faces. Hathaway is a charmer, even when sticking to lightweight fluff like Prada. What the hell, it is an incremental step up from Princess Diaries 2. I suppose if you’re still suffering from “Sex and the City” withdrawal, you could do worse than this cute, fashion-conscious nod to bad bosses and good clothes.
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