The Devil Wears Prada is hot. It's massively hot. It's hotter than anything the actual Devil wears. It would have to be. This is The Summer of Horror and here I get invited to a chick movie by a couple of chicks. But from the moment the opening credits commenced (a sequence that featured a veritable candy fest of beautiful female models putting on their delicates) I was already leaning over and thanking my party for bringing me! Huzzah!
Sadly, this doesn't continue. Not only do we not get a Pret A Porter-like nude modeling scene, but we also don't even get ol' Anne Hathaway repeating her Brokeback Mountain topless shot. But that's not the only reason The Devil Wears Prada is a mixed bag. Heck, Reading Rainbow hasn't had nudity in years and years, and it's still good. I tell you, that LeVar... ha ha ha!
The Devil Wears Prada is the twisted Cinderella tale of a young writer named Andy Sachs (Hathaway), who is looking for the proper internship to kick her writing into high gear. In spite of being frumpy, fat and unfashionable, she interviews at the most prestigious fashion magazine on this or any other planet: Runway! Okay, now let's rewind for a second here. Anne Hathaway is frumpy, fat and unfashionable? Look, I can get that the clothes her character is wearing aren't that cool, but the rest? She's no less cute pre-transformation as she was in her pre-transformation role in The Princess Diaries (different kind of cute, I'll admit). Of course, this strange criticism (and casting) might be intentional and a deliberate lampooning of the Fashion Industry at large. But read on.
Against the odds set by senior intern Emily (Emily Blunt... hot) and the flaming fashion mogul Nigel (Stanley Tucci... not hot), the devil of the title shows mercy on the poor soul of Andy and gives her the gig. Naturally, this leads to an internship in hell.
Meryl Streep is Miranda Priestly, the big boss of Runway and, by extension and association, several of Dante's rings of Hell. Soon, Andy is thrust into a job she has no preparation for, amongst people she has no common ground with and is expected to know things she has no business knowing. On the flip side, she is gaining ground in the company and is rubbing elbows with some of the heavy hitters of the industry, and the rest of the New York High Society. Surprisingly, this doesn't include Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, William Henry Harrison and General Grievous, but some nice guys like Simon Baker's Christian Thompson and Daniel Sunjata's James Holt. Okay, nice guys who want to see what's in her panties, but nice guys nonetheless.
As Miranda gets more demanding, Andy gets better and better at her job, in spite of the curve balls thrown around by Emily and others who would love to see her slip and trip. The problem, in the story as well as with the movie, is that Andy ceases to truly be a sympathetic character and begins to become a relatively rotten Kaminoan Clone of Miranda herself. She calls in favors, steps on toes, bypasses allies and abuses relationships, all to kiss Miranda's aerobicized ass. Naturally, the people who suffer the most are her best friend Lilly (Tracie Thoms), her boyfriend Nate (Adrian Grenier) and even her dad Richard (David Marshall Grant, an occasional guest on thirtysomething, but then... so was Tucci). After a while one wonders whom the titular devil truly is.
It's all a means to a rather obvious and fairy-tale oriented end, that surely succeeds at the point it's trying to make, but doesn't quite leave the viewer terribly fulfilled as it does this. The Devil Wears Prada was poised to do to the fashion industry what The Player did to the Hollywood machine. Let's face it, aside from the lack of murder, the themes and plots are similar. However, at times Aline Brosh McKenna's screenplay feels like an informative and apologetic take on the industry, less decrying the bad things than showing why these things are not all that bad to begin with. Was this the point? It's hard to say, seeing as how the point (if there is one) seems buried down deep in the sequened laundry.
Knowing more about the back story doesn't help much (although, I would wager, reading the novel might). McKenna's screenplay is based on the novel of the same name by Lauren Weisberger. The prevailing rumor is that Weisberger, who interned at Vogue in real life, wrote this as a bit of an anonymous stab at Vogue's editor Anna Wintour. If this is the case, perhaps the idea was never to lampoon the industry, but to simply needle one individual.
But the film hardly makes that clear. David Frankel's directing focuses much more on the acting than the subtext. While this is good for the actors, it leaves the film's path somewhat scattered. It's hard to really detect what Frankel is getting at here. Is this a satire, a drama, a straight comedy, or just his own stab at "Chick Lit"? While I'm the first to be irritated by a film talking down to me, a little more focus on intent might have helped. Andy's whole purpose in interning at Runway is to work her way up to publications that suit her. However, half-way through the film she's offered a shot at a writing gig that seemed to be up her alley. In spite of considering Miranda the PALPATINE of her existence, she turns this down. Why? I have no clue, man!
Similarly, characters who are written to seem like "the good guys" come off as rotten apples, whereas rotten apples come off as really cool and affable. For example, Grenier and Baker gave me the impression that their roles have been, or should have been switched. Grenier is supposedly the jealous and loveable boyfriend, but he comes off like an obnoxious, toothy glamour boy (like his role in Entourage). Baker, who should seem like a bit of a seductive snake in the grass is among the only likeable characters here. I was a little disappointed that Simon Baker didn't get together a gang of post-apocalyptic warriors to go fight some Zombies, but that aside, he just seems like a vastly better fit for Andy than Grenier does.
Simon Baker (again with the flawless American accent) and Tracie Thoms are stand outs in an already solid cast. Issues or not, Hathaway is fine in both her modes, Streep is perfect as this "Cruella De Vil" of the Glamour Set, and both Blunt and Tucci, who portray vastly different characters, offer up an interesting dual-foil for Hathaway's Upwardly Mobile Innocent Learner.
The Devil Wears Prada is overall fun and there is more than a lot of beauty for just about anyone to look at. It's the sort of film that has its flaws, but will also sell a lot of DVDs to young women who will tell their friends and boyfriends "Oh, you have GOT to watch this!" Those talked into checking it out will notice the blemishes, but won't find their time completely wasted either. Three Stars out of Five for The Devil Wears Prada. It's fun, it's cool, it's hot, but there's too much missing for any true logic to shine through the taffeta. Now, I wonder if we can get a sequel made... Maybe we'll focus on Simon Baker's character... we'll call it, "The Devil Wears Skechers", no, no, wait... "The Devil Wears Steve Madden"! Yeah, and we'll have all the models and everything, but they'll be backup as Christian "The Killer" Thompson fights the Hoards of Zombies that threaten to take over the planet. Anyway, gotta run. Time to hit that grocery store... I think I just saw Jenna Jameson buying some Cantaloupes!
Hey, you guys remember when I started this site and I was shooting for eventually getting a legitimate critic gig out there somewhere? Man... I've blown that one, haven't I?
Had gone all Ballistic on some Zombies and saved all the Models, wouldn't it?
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