The Devil Wears Prada
2006: David Frankel
PG-13 – 109 minutes
Vault Rating: 6.5
This is a romance formula with pretty good style. “The Devil Wears Prada” is a hodgepodge of standard girl vs. career setups, office competition subplots and social life soap opera.
Vault is left to wonder: “Gee. Can a young, smart career girl really have it all?”
Well. Per formula, you already know the answer to the question. This is not to say that “Devil” is a bad movie; far from it. Indeed many here in the Vault will like it far better than Vault’s rating of a 6.5.
Basically, this is “The Princess Diaries III” for costar Anne Hathaway. You’ve got the frumpy (but really beautiful) average girl who gets plopped into the middle of high society. She adapts through a series of misadventures and eventually triumphs.
Hathaway portrays Andy Sachs, a Northwestern graduate who travels to New York to make a career in journalism when she winds up the second assistant to Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), the domineering bitch who publishes Runway Magazine.
Andy endures fat jokes and slights about her hopeless fashion sense as she schleps for coffee and is basically run off her legs by her demanding boss.
She is, of course, torn between the hunky struggling chef (Adrian Grenier) at home in their New York City apartment and the hunky jet-setting author (Simon Baker) who wants to introduce Andy to his editor over at The New Yorker. Come on, guess which way that see-saw eventually tips.
See, that’s what keeps me from puckering up and giving this film a great big kiss. It’s these several stock set pieces that run all over this movie. Still, it is buoyed by uniformly excellent acting, wicked fashion that the ladies will oogle over, and one pretty good back story.
That back story centers on the fabulous Ms. Streep, who is without peer as an actress. She can play anything on any day and carry it off effortlessly. The role of a dragon-lady boss is actually too easy for her. She’s already knocked down the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for the role and she’s nominated for Best Actress by Oscar as well. It is Ms. Streep’s world and everybody else is just standing in it.
But her character is fleshed out nicely in two scenes where we get a look at the woman behind the curtain. Miranda Priestly is given some depth among the mostly one or two-dimensional characters that populate the film and she pulls this whole thing up from the depths of averageness.
She’s got help in the form of her right hand man, designer and office mediary, Nigel (Stanley Tucci), who plays his role straight to good effect when it could have been thrown away in a flash of queer slapstick. Bravo to Mr. Tucci for taking a luckless roll and making something better of it.
All this and Paris, too, for the climactic fashion show where Andy must adjust her worlds once and for all. Did I say that? “Climactic fashion show?” If that phrase doesn’t bother you, then you’re simply going to love “The Devil Wears Prada.” Meryl Streep is always worth watching, Stanley Tucci pulls way more than his weight, and Anne Hathaway is her usual princess-in-waiting self.
Decent movie. Check it out.