Film Reviews


By • Jun 30th, 2006 •

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Soggy without a story. A job with a world-famous, powerful monster comes with enviable perks. See it only for sexy Simon Baker.

As you all know, this is based on the bestselling novel “The Devil Wears Prada” by Lauren Weisberger, a thinly-veiled expose of her tenure working for Vogue magazine’s ruler Anna Wintour. I just dropped my subscription to Vogue. I hated reading it – the heavy-furniture editing and the constant story references to big-name advertisers. If you are not carrying a $20,000 Hermes Birkin bag – it has a two-year wait list – you are not featured in Vogue. One woman’s huge cache of Birkins, lined up like trophies, was given a full page. Vogue could do a story on the Blessed Virgin Mary, ignore her accomplishments, and focus on the contents of her closet.

Meryl Streep is imperial Miranda Priestly, who runs Runway magazine like Pol Pot. Take a bathroom break and you are fired. Miranda needs a 2nd Assistant, so she hires fat and sloppy Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), who miraculously, after a visit to the Runway wardrobe racks, goes from a size 6 to a size 4.

Problem is, Andy has never heard of Miranda or Runway. She wants to be a real writer, not someone who carries a $2900 handbag and wears $800 high heels! Being Miranda’s assistant is a career-maker. Andy doesn’t care, no matter how many times she is told. Miranda’s chief in-house production editor, Nigel (Stanley Tucci), wises Andy up and tells her that thousands of other women want her job. Love it and make something of it, or leave. Miranda has a highly efficient first assistant, Emily (Emily Blunt), who is in charge of making sure Andy does her job.

The job involves brushing Miranda’s teeth and serving as her “whipping-girl.” (A whipping-boy was kept to be whipped when a prince deserved chastisement. Mungo Murray stood for Charles I; Barnaby Fitzpatrick for Edward VI. D’Ossat and Du Perron, were whipped by Clement VIII for Henri IV of France. Hey, it paid off for those two, who were later made cardinals!)

Dull, wide-eyed (but supposedly smart) Andy has a complacent, sweet boyfriend Nate (Adrian Grenier) who is a cook. They live together in a West Village hovel. I used to live in a duplex in the West Village on Greenwich St. It is impossible not to love living in the West Village even in a tiny, dark “Andy & Nate” hovel. Nate, with his uni-brow and heavy 5 o’clock shadow, needs a laser hair removal makeover. I’m not talking metrosexual makeover here; I’m talking about grooming.

Anyhow, Andy is being pursued by the perfect guy for her. Christian Thompson (Simon Baker) is international, sexy, and a successful writer. He is also incredibly charming and he appears to be genuinely interested in helping Andy with her writing career. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

Will Andy leave her down-to-earth friends and understanding boyfriend for glamour and ruthlessness to follow the Empress-of-Fashion around as her “Second?” Will Andy dump Nate for Christian who wants to be her career-building champion? Will Miranda show a human side?

Except for the clothes chosen for everyone by Patricia Fields, this “Devil” lacks the pleasure of being cruel. Andy is not appreciative of her luck. She should make the most of it. Sadly, this is what you conclude after seeing THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. Of course, this being a morality tale, all the pitfalls of being successful are here to make you feel good about shopping at Target.

I was disappointed in the lack of fire and delight: The lust of fashion consumerism and the vicious pursuit of a fashion magazine’s anointing is not even addressed. Andy just appeared ungrateful.

The cast is first-rate; it is the writing and direction that is wrinkled. This is not a sharply pressed, quick-witted film about the world of fashion. While the screenplay gives Streep her moment to be human, did we really need it, or did she?

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