DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
DEVIL WEARS PRADA, THE (director: David Frankel; screenwriters: Aline Brosh McKenna/based on the novel by Lauren Weisberger; cinematographer: Florian Ballhaus; editor: Mark Livolsi; music: Theodore Shapiro; cast: Meryl Streep (Miranda Priestly), Anne Hathaway (Andrea "Andy" Sachs), Stanley Tucci (Nigel), Emily Blunt (Emily), Simon Baker (Christian Thompson), Adrian Grenier (Nate), Tracie Thoms (Lilly), Stephanie Szostak ( Jacqueline Follet), Daniel Sunjata (James Holt), Tibor Feldman (Irv Ravitz); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Wendy Finerman; 20th Century Fox; 2006)

 
"Pretty to look at but not much food for the brain."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This lightweight comedy directed by David Frankel ("Miami Rhapsody," son of Max Frankel, a former executive editor of The New York Times), who has earned his wings mostly in television doing episodes for HBO's "Entourage" and "Sex and the City", is based on Lauren Weisberger's best-selling roman à clef about a bright young aspiring journalist, Andrea "Andy" Sachs (Anne Hathaway), selling her soul to the Devil at a New York fashion magazine. Weisberger researched her book by working for a year as assistant for Vogue's editor Anna Wintour. Though the characters are all familiar stereotypes, the dialogue is nothing to write home about, the moral arc of the story has little credibility and the story itself has nothing important to say, nevertheless the frosty acting by Meryl Streep is deliciously first-rate (reason alone for seeing the film) and it does give the viewer an insider's look inside the bustling world of fashion journalism.

Andy is a recent Northwestern journalism grad who moves to New York from the Midwest to be a journalist, but when she can't get a legit journalism job unexpectedly finds herself hired as an assistant to high-powered and career-obsessed head editor of the prestigious fashion Runway magazine, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). The nightmarish boss is referred to as "the dragon lady" and is considered the most powerful person in the fashion world. We are told it's a job that most young women would kill for but for Andy, who cares nothing about fashion and dresses all wrong for the job, it's supposedly only a good career move where she can become known to other magazine editors by mingling with the world shakers and movers and thereby move onto pursuing her journalism career in the near future. 

The job itself is merely being a flunky to her imperious boss and her many irrational whims and taking further grief from the number one assistant Emily (Emily Blunt), a snooty and curt Brit who loves fashion and her job-- and takes pleasure in insulting Andy about her unfashionable frumpy appearance. In this stifling and oppressive atmosphere our heroine is at the beck and call of her boss at all hours of the day or night (thanks to the cell phone), given only 15 minutes for lunch and assigned impossible tasks such as getting the new Harry Potter novel before it's published and finding a flight out of Miami for the boss during a hurricane when all flights have been cancelled. At home Andy circulates with friends who act as a Greek chorus to sympathize with her plight and a grungy, always unshaven chef boyfriend Nate (Adrian Grenier), who is around as a plot device to remind Andy that she's sold out her ideals and to point out to those viewers who might not have fully gotten it how far she has fallen and how hollow is the world of fashion and celebrity. Despite all the workplace hostility and losing contact with friends and live-in boyfriend, Andy hangs on for dear life and is eventually given a fashion makeover by the magazine's resident swish Nigel (Stanley Tucci), Miranda's art director, who becomes her protector and this allows her to get enough confidence to get over on the job.

The shallow story predictably lets us know before the end that Andy has learned her lesson and gets back on the right track by pursuing her real dreams. We knew that was going to transpire within 15 minutes of this film, so what we get from then on is a glossy film that is much like reading Vogue--pretty to look at but not much food for the brain.

REVIEWED ON 7/1/2006        GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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