Monday, December 25, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada: Grade B

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci, Emily Blunt. Director: David Frankel.

Recent college grad (Anne Hathaway) lands a job with a high-dollar NYC fashion magazine headed by totalitarian editor Meryl Streep. Hathaway wears frumpy sweaters and shapeless wool skirts, unaware of fashion and unimpressed by it. She is an assistant to Streep, with Blunt, who is high strung, high fashion, competitive, and wittily nasty in a Mean Girls way. Tucci is some kind of executive for Streep. Over various “crises” in the business, Streep comes to trust Hathaway, Blunt falls ill and Hathaway takes her place and eventually becomes fashion and fashion-industry aware, to the dismay of her increasingly alienated, impoverished boyfriend. Her cliché epiphany is what you would expect. The excellent humor is in ridicule of Hathaway, "fat" jokes, and parody of the fashion industry, an easy target skewered better by Altman in Prête a Porter. But the story is really only a series of clichés stitched together, its lack of inventiveness degenerating into repetitive, predictable scenes of dashing about NYC against manufactured, trivial deadlines. However, the acting of Streep and Tucci save the movie from all other ills. Hathaway is likeable but her big teeth don’t compensate for a thin performance. Funny, highly watchable, and there is one good speech by Streep that almost justifies the artificial fashion world, but overall the movie is just silly fluff.

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