The Devil Wears Prada capitalizes on the cheeky adage, “when it happens to you it’s tragedy; when it happens to someone else it’s comedy”. The corporate misadventures of Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) provide some fast-paced, summer fun and a welcome distraction from our own work woes. For anyone who’s ever cursed at mandatory overtime, kicked in the coffee machine or wondered why they graduated college to answer phones, this comedy is for you.
Andy is a small town-girl who graduates from Northwestern University and moves to New York, sporting big dreams and a five-minutes-ago wardrobe. Unable to find the writing gig of her dreams, she interviews at the fashion magazine “Runway” hoping to assist Editor-in-Chief Miranda Priestly (played to wicked perfection by Meryl Streep). In this case the devil isn’t in the details—it’s staring right back at her with a Prada bag slung over her shoulder. Despite a lame fashion sense and “fat” figure (she is after all, a robust size 6), Andy is hired as assistant #2, joining Emily (My Summer Of Love’s Emily Blunt), a snippy workaholic who has no time for a life since she is busy tending to all of Miranda’s whims.
The same can be said for everyone else in the office, including her right-hand-man Nigel (Stanley Tucci). Miranda is the Cruella De Vil of the fashion world, wearing only spiffy outfits and shooting icy glares that send the staff running around in panicked states of hysteria. She flings her overcoat on desks for others to hang up, refuses to share an elevator, and snidely cracks “the tales of your incompetence do not interest me” and “by all means move at a glacial pace, you know how that thrills me.” Streep plays the role with an effortless demonic quality that somehow never feels over-the-top. It’s a comedic tour de force that suggests she may have a 14th Oscar nomination heading her way—and deservedly so.
The Devil Wears Prada is based on the 2003 bestseller by Lauren Weisberger, a thinly veiled account of her time working for Anna Wintour at “Vogue”. The story plays well on the big screen, offering a biting satire full of mean-spirited humor and catty overtones. Anne Hathaway’s girl-next-door quality blends well with Streep’s superior-from-hell. What’s interesting is that unlike most movies, the women lead the show and the men generally fade into the background. The least developed characters are Andy’s love interests—shaggy boyfriend Nate (Adrian Grenier) who thinks her ambitions have taken over her morals, and a smarmy novelist (Simon Baker) with a desire to steal her away. They basically serve as eye candy and have little to do besides stroke their hair and brood into the camera.
While the film has a lot of great one-liners and a knockout performance by Streep, it leaves a little something to be desired as a whole. Screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (Laws Of Attraction) often goes for obvious transitions—fish out of water that changes overnight, a moment of humanity for the evil boss—that offer few surprises. However, since nobody is seeing a movie like this for the plot, the quick style by David Frankel and air of silliness will compensate for its dramatic shortcomings. Plus, as an added bonus, your boss won’t seem half bad come Monday morning.