The Devil Wears Prada (2006) — And you thought your high-paying job was bad!

“Don’t make me feed you to one of the models.”

Lissa’s rating: I love my captain!

Lissa’s review: When it comes to bosses, I’ve been very lucky. My last supervisor was, most days, everyone’s dream boss. He was understanding, funny, challenging, and always introduced me to people and tried to give me every opportunity humanly possible. I would work for him again in a heartbeat. My direct boss was a bit nosy and over-personal at times and never let you finish a sentence, but also supportive and generally left me alone. And the research leader (can you tell I worked for the government) might have been overly picky, but he had the best technical grasp on the English language of anyone I’ve ever met. Seriously, the guy should have been an editor. My grad school advisor was a strange breed in that he actually believed his students should have a life, and was in our wedding. My undergrad advisor… well, let’s just say he gave us the day off when Jerry Garcia died. And even the boss I have now (who, at seven months, has more hair than my last three bosses combined!) smiles at me and makes my heart melt, even when he’s being a… challenge.

And yeah, Justin’s pretty cool, too.

Seriously, though, if nothing else, The Devil Wears Prada will make you really, really appreciate your boss. (Either that or it might make you finally throw off your corporate shackles and quit your job, but if your boss is remotely human it’s probably the first.) Guys, I know this looks like a chick flick. I mean, it has Anne Hathaway, it features a makeover, and it takes place at a fashion magazine. But it’s not. It’s about the relationship between boss and employee, and how work can overtake life.

The Devil Wears Prada was a book first, and yes, I’ve read it. Frankly, I liked the movie a lot better. The book was funny and witty and cutting at first, but after a while I got fed up with Andy (played by Anne Hathaway in the movie), the long-suffering assistant to Miranda (Meryl Streep). I just kept yelling at her to QUIT ALREADY. Is any job that worth it? Honestly, in the book I just got fed up with her. But because the movie was so much shorter, I wasn’t nearly as exasperated with her by the end. One of those cases where less is more. Other than that, I honestly can’t remember how loyal the movie was to the book because the book didn’t make that deep an impression on me. Eh, I’m not sure the movie did either, but in a popcorn-fluff type of way.

And that’s really what The Devil Wears Prada is. It’s a good popcorn flick that won’t change your life but will entertain you for an hour and forty minutes, plus previews. The basic scenario is that Andy is an aspiring journalist, and is offered a job working for Miranda Priestly, the editor of Vogue, er, Runway magazine. Miranda is something of a she-devil (hence the title), and Andy is subjected to the most hellish year of her life, all while learning about fashion and corporate backstabbing. The ending is predictable, the dialogue is average, and the clothing is a show in itself.

A lot has been said about Meryl Streep’s performance in The Devil Wears Prada, and rightfully so. She’s… terrifying. But in exactly the way she should be. Terrifying and elegant and quietly verbally abusive and the kind of person that can’t really hurt you, but crumples your ego into little pieces and makes you cry. If I were Meryl Streep’s husband, I’d be kind of edging away from her during the premiere, wondering what I’d married, even if she’s the absolute nicest person in real life.

Anne Hathaway continues to pick movies with makeovers, but I’ve always quite liked her and she’s pretty and competent in this. The other performance I really enjoyed was Stanley Tucci as Nigel, Miranda’s second-in-command and Andy’s guardian angel. It was restrained and a several limp wrists short of a stereotype, which was definitely a good thing. I’ve only seen maybe one other movie with Stanley Tucci, but he’s growing on me fast. I also was amused to see Tracie Thoms as Lily, just because I really, really like Rent and she played my second favorite character in it, and I’m just glad to see more of her. Don’t you like well thought out reasons like that?

The pacing was a bit weird, and I definitely had some continuity issues. After Andy had her makeover, they’d show shots of her in all these different outfits, and different shots of Miranda tossing her coat on Andy’s desk, and then it would seem like only a day or two had passed since between the actual bits of story. That bugged me. I also really want to know how Andy got her hands on the seventh Harry Potter book, because I want to read it, too! The ending is also kind of lackluster, and I really wish they’d kept the book’s ending, because Life Lessons about How People Are Really People really wasn’t what I was looking for. But like I said, popcorn flick. So, oh well.

I did find some of the things the movie had to say about fashion interesting. Now, me, I’m not a fashion sort of girl. Even when I try to go out and spend money on clothes, I end up back at J.C. Penney’s, or maybe Casual Corner if I’m really dressing up for work. I just can’t justify paying so much money for clothing. But hearing the take on fashion from “inside the industry” — fashion as a business — was really kind of fascinating to me, although it won’t make me run out to the King of Prussia mall and go into the DKNY store or buy a Coach handbag. (Duckie is breathing a sigh of relief, I’m sure.) There were also some interesting questions on just how much should you try to fit into your job? I never really had to, because I worked in a laid-back government scientific institution, and wore jeans and t-shirts to work every day. But how far would I go to fit into a job? What makes you successful at your job? And why are these questions interfering with my popcorn fluff?

There’s been a lot of Oscar buzz already for The Devil Wears Prada (or, more accurately, for Meryl Streep), and I can see where they’re coming from. But at the end of the day this is one of those movies that will probably join Legally Blonde, Shrek, Saved! and The Road To El Dorado in our collection as “movies I watch when Duckie’s out of town and I want a good movie to enjoy, relax to, and do cross stitch (i.e., I don’t need to pay too close attention.)” Worth seeing, worth buying, worth eating popcorn to, and worth watching every time you think your boss is evil.

Kyle’s rating: Ooh, that theme song is going to be in my life forever!

Kyle’s review: Over the summer, the girl I was dating was all about this movie. She was in love with the source novel not only because she shared its protagonist’s name but had also basically lived her life: working in fashion while living in Los Angeles. As far as she was concerned, this was the most important film of the year. The problem with high expectations is the possibility of horrific disappointment, and I warned her the movie was surely never going to live up to the greatness she was hoping for. She wanted me to go along with her and her friends to see it, but I couldn’t go because of a prior commitment. We made plans instead to go to a midnight release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest a few days later, which turned out extremely well for everybody, really.

Retroactively, there was immense rejoicing in my heart when The Devil Wears Prada’s final credits rolled. Because I realized if I seen it with her and her friends, I would have had to lie or risk making a bunch of fashion-minded girls really, really upset. Because I loved it!

I hate to be ‘that superficial guy,’ but there was one simple reason I was super-psyched about Devil Wears Prada no matter what badmouthing or whatever I heard about it: Emily Blunt looked so hot and cool on the poster that I knew her performance would change my life. I mean, that facial expression and exquisite beauty mixed with the dyed red hair was amazing, and I realized that no matter what else the film held whenever Emily Blunt was on-screen I knew I would be happy. As the film played, that certainly proved to be true: Blunt is absolutely amazing in her role as the uppity and complex first assistant. All the Oscar talk for Meryl Streep struck me as ultimately overblown, as the role and Streep’s performance was impressive but nothing award-worthy. I’m not sure Blunt’s was any more deserving of Oscar gold, but I do know that I was completely blown away whenever she showed up. Amazing!

Beyond that, the film is simply well-made and a quality piece of entertainment. The coming-of-age/self-realization storyline has been done before, but here it’s energized by the stellar cast (especially those mentioned along with Stanley Tucci!) and a way of looking at the same-old-same-old situations (increasingly disillusioned boyfriend, shady love interest, increasing respect between superior and subordinate, etc.) that makes them seem fresh again. Usually it’s either the work storyline or the love storyline that captures the attention, not both, but Devil Wears Prada manages to really juggle both the work and home life of Anne Hathaway’s character without overdoing either one. Super-impressive! I also enjoyed that *slight spoiler!* Simon Baker’s character didn’t have some kind of nefarious ulterior motive for being interested in Hathaway: he just really, really wanted to get her into bed. Who can blame him?

Don’t be put off by the rom-com stylings of The Devil Wears Prada, nor fear an overly ‘chick flick’ feel. It’s quality entertainment with a great cast and great dialogue. If anything, the extreme devotion to fashion might prove slightly annoying to you; I know some people (none notably fashion-minded) who couldn’t believe that there were people so obsessed with their looks and the looks of others and were therefore just disgusted by that aspect of Prada. But they must not read many magazines either, you know? Just give in, check it out, and remember that vertical lines are the most slimming! Or is it horizontal? Oops, I guess I should have paid more attention?

Didja notice?

  • Harry Potter book 7. Like I wouldn’t?
  • Since when is Anne Hathaway NOT skinny? That bugged me.
  • That designer clothes are clothes I can’t imagine wearing myself?
  • I mean, come on. If I could look like her… and size six is not fat.
  • Seriously. Who wears that stuff?

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