Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada

Director: David Frankel
Written by Aline Brosh McKenna based on the novel by Lauren Weisberger

Yep, it's amazing how a story that is essentially the same as one that came before it becomes a smash bestselling sensation and now a must-see chick flick starring the most recognized actress in the history of films. Back in 1994, a pre-Usual Suspects Kevin Spacey played a comicly unreasonable studio executive in a performance that's still one of his best all-time in Swimming With Sharks. His victim was played by Frank Whaley, a woefully naive Gen-Xer landing a secretary job that could vault him to bigger and better things.

The humor came from giving this know-nothing a variety of tasks that are impossible or nearly impossible, and then getting yelled at for not being able to do something simple. This, in fact, constitutes the laughs that will be had in The Devil Wears Prada--it even has a matching scene for sheer lunacy--In Sharks, Spacey has Whaley find and tear up every copy of the latest issue of Time magazine that might be circulating around Hollywood, an issue that contains a negative article about his character. In Prada, Meryl Streep has Anne Hathaway track down the unpublished Harry Potter manuscript for her kids.

In fact, the jobs depicted in Prada and Sharks are not so much jobs, but endurance tests--last one year and you'll be up for something big. Both movies acknowledge that it isn't the quality of the work, but the ability to anticipate out-of-stratosphere impossibilities and be able to weather severe criticism--it's paid hazing.

Even their subplots are in accordance in some way--the demanding executive always calling, especially during personal time with family and friends, causing a strain on the relationships. But the movies are different in tone--Sharks was darker and worked its way to a cynical surprise ending, while Prada is all chick-flick sunny, puts its hands on its hips, and says, "Wow, women sure can be bitches sometimes. Golly."

So here's the story--Andrea, friends call her Andy (that epitome of hot, Hathaway), has moved to New York to try to get her foot in the door in the publishing business, somehow gets to the door of Runway magazine even though fashion is not her forte. The wicked queen of an editor, Miranda Priestly (Streep), said to be based on Vogue editor Anna Wintour, gives Andy a chance despite her lack of fashion sense and interest. Andy tries to learn the ropes alongside feverish ass-kisser Emily (Emily Blunt), and when everything starts crashing down, seeks solace from the Yoda of the magazine, Nigel (Stanley Tucci). Of course, she starts to change for the better of the magazine, but the detriment to her comfortable social life with boyfriend Nate (Adrian Grenier) and friends Lilly (Rent's Tracie Thoms) and Doug (Rich Sommer). Further possibly crashing her world is slick publisher Christian Thompson (Simon Baker) who wants her, and what dude wouldn't?

And, just like Sharks, the evil boss is the most popular character with the best lines and meatiest character--Streep runs away with this movie; the other characters are left in her dust, and it's almost pointless to mention it because that could be seen from the previews...could be seen when the casting was announced. Second would be Blunt, her bitchy turn as Emily highlights much of the sans-Streep material. Meanwhile, Hathaway, cute as a button, gets a pretty thankless role; you can call it the Tom Cruise in Rain Man syndrome, where an actor gets props for allowing another actor who isn't even playing the film's main character to own the movie. Hathaway showed she has some chops in her limited role in Brokeback Mountain, but she still hasn't gotten something that makes you say, "Now there's a bankable star!"

So should you see this? Well, I hate to say it, but I think I might have even liked this better than Superman Returns. It's a pretty fun movie, even if it has been done better before. A lot of those old conventions will make you antsy--like the boyfriend deriding his girlfriend for taking a phone call during an tired. But, it's one of those movies that is watchable despite numerous cliches and flaws. It's no classic, but it fits the bill.


At 7/01/2006 08:36:00 AM, Blogger Amy said...

I went to see this last night. Normally I cannot stay awake during a late movie but I really enjoyed this one. I do prefer the book over the movie only because Miranda is not likeable in the least bit but the movie gave her a few redeeming moments. I enjoyed it and went away laughing. The only thing that bothered me were all the commercials before the previews and the movie. They were bad.


Post a Comment

<< Home