The Devil Wears Prada

The best tunes, the worst films.

Released in 2006, certified UK-PG. Reviewed on 06 Nov 2006 by Scott Morris
The Devil Wears Prada image

There's one thing you can't help but acknowledge as genius on the creators of flyaway teen fluff The Devil Wears Prada's part, and that's the casting of Meryl Streep as a hateful, irritating, soulless superbitch. Life and art in perfect harmony.

The rest of the film remains a comfortable distance from genius, although it's actually not quite the painful horrorshow anyone outside the target audience of tweenage girls might expect. By that statement I mean that it's merely a painful waste of time and effort, rather than explicitly causing your brain to melt and dribble gently out of your earholes, and that's about as strong a recommendation as I'll muster for it.

Oh, yeah. Plot recap. I forgot, because it's very easy to forget. Miranda Priestly (Streep) rules Vogue substitute magazine Runway with the sort of charming reasonableness and delicacy you might expect of a Stalin / Margaret Thatcher hybrid. Her uniquely demanding man-management style creates an employment opportunity in the role of PA cum dogsbody, which is filled by the distinctly unglamorous Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway). Thinking that this high profile appointment will help her network with magazine editor-types of the 'serious' journalism she really wants to be doing, she descends into this unfamiliar world of high fashion that she treats with disdain and contempt, until for some reason too forgettable to remember she suddenly starts caring, gets a makeover and plunges headlong into haute couture.

Ah, but what cost pretty clothing? Sure, they may be freebies from the wardrobe department, but the attendant on-call all-hours servicing of Priestly's increasingly unfeasible demands starts cutting into Andy's personal life, straining relationships with her circle of friends and critically her boyfriend. Intra-office rivalries with fellow PA, the snippy Emily (Emily Blunt) who feels justifiably threatened by Andy's competence hardly helps matters regardless of how often we are implored to just all get along. With crushing, painted by numbers inevitability, Andy soon finds that she has become the thing she most hated - a broccoli sandwich. That can't be right. Let me check my notes. Ah.

The Devil Wears Prada image

Andy soon finds that she has become the thing she most hated - a career-obsessed, self-centred bee-hatch not a million miles removed from the dread Priestly herself. Oh noes! What a shocker, who'd have thunk it, so on, so forth. It's not the damning indictment of image driven fashionistas that you may possibly expect given the bombastic title. Instead, it's the same trite "don't try to be what you're not" homily that's been driven rather successfully into the ground by this point.

You'll have to pardon my colossal lack of surprise at how this all plays out and resolves itself, but this has to be the umpteenth variation on the theme I've seen in my short life that's largely been dedicated to avoiding this sort of thing, so lord knows how familiar it will seem to the ten to fifteen year old girls that this is largely aimed at who get at least one of these a month to suffer through.

Admittedly, that's the film's only major failing. For once the intense dislike I have for Streep is channeled into a character that's supposed to be loathsome, so that works out nicely. Hathaway is a picture of amiability and the supporting cast are playing to above average levels, including an excellent scenery chewing Stanley Tucci.

I suppose if you want to see something of this genotype, this is as good as you can hope for while still remaining in the boilerplate district. However, it's this steadfast refusal to deviate from type that makes it a complete waste of time for everyone else, or anyone who remembers something similar. Like, say, the similarly Hathaway infused The Princess Diaries. Consider yourself warned.

Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 2/5 TippyMarks.

David Frankel
Cast list:
Meryl Streep (Miranda Priestly)
Anne Hathaway (Andy Sachs)
Emily Blunt (Emily)
Stanley Tucci (Nigel)
Adrian Grenier (Nate)