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I guess this is the sign of what America likes to read, being that The Devil Wears Prada was based off of a best-seller. People must enjoy their books light and fluffy, convenient and contrived. Well, it doesn’t really surprise me, as most of America likes the escapism and ability to spend time with something that doesn’t take too much brainpower to follow. Now, I could be totally off base here, but if I am, it doesn’t excuse the fact that the movie adaptation is all the things mentioned above. Also, from experience, I know Americans definitely like their movies as low maintenance as possible, so it is no surprise this film did so well. It is a shame though, because there are some nice performances and some moments that truly work, too bad there were also many that did not.

We have the fish-out-of-water tale of a young girl getting a job with the country’s most esteemed and vicious fashion critics. Now I understand she was hired because the critic wanted to prove a point with her old assistant, but come on, there is no possible way this girl with no fashion sense and a bit of an attitude against authority could be hired for the job. However, sometimes it is good to have someone on board with a fresh look, so I can suspend disbelief here. Our girl slowly grows into her job, neglects the people that mean the most to her, and begins a journey down the path of a cutthroat career girl doing what is necessary to get ahead. Of course we will be given the obligatory “a-ha” moment where she sees what has gone wrong with her life and how she has changed those around her for the better, but even with that knowledge, I still wanted to enjoy what I was watching. I wanted to have fun with the ride no matter how easy the plot was progressing and how obvious. Unfortunately the characters didn’t keep up appearances and some moments were just laughable at how specifically simplistic they were.

Give credit to Anne Hathaway for actually giving us what we expect from her role. It is pretty much a rehash of the exact same part from Princess Diaries, but hey, she does the ugly duckling to gorgeous success well. How Hollywood can continue to get away with casting an attractive girl in these cases and call them fat before the transformation, I have no idea. As for the rest of the cast, the real standout comes from Stanley Tucci who steals absolutely every second of screen time he has. The guy makes anything he is in better and no matter how bad the role, finds a way to redeem it. As far as writing goes, he is given all the great one-liners and nails each and every one, (whether I should applaud the author or screenwriter, I don’t know).

Our other two leads, Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep, just did not work for me. I have heard all this great press for Blunt and how her breakthrough performance was top-notch. In my opinion, her character was underdeveloped and a pawn used for the sole purpose to help show Hathaway’s rise up the ranks. When the tug of war is no longer needed, she completely disappears from the film because she wasn’t needed for anything else. I’m not saying she was bad, I’m just saying the part was a throwaway one. Benicio Del Toro’s small role in Swimming With Sharks was more fleshed out and it lasted maybe five minutes, (Sharks, by the way, is a similar tale—a lot darker and sadistic—and much, much better). As for Meryl Streep, what can you say about the acting? The sweet monotone voice while she is turning the knife in the back of all those around her is spot-on, but again, the role just doesn’t live up to the evilness necessary and expected. Until her final revelation of espionage, she really wasn’t all that bad. Nobody really hated her, Tucci and Blunt continuously defended her and even Hathaway spoke about how she was just real good at her job, and if she were a man, no one would say a thing. Where was this monster I wanted to see?

Now, when it comes to contrivances, you don’t have to look far. A friend is trying to make a name for herself in the art world and Hathaway’s lust-interest just happens to be there to show the burgeoning love triangle? I don’t want to give anything away, but could the car crash have been any better timed as far as tough decisions go? What could have been a nice confrontation between assistants ends up taking place in a hospital without any of the fireworks that would have happened in real life. Also, how about Hathaway always meeting the precisely right person needed at every party/event? If there is a problem for her to solve, she just happened to have been introduced to the person that can solve it five minutes before. It was all just too easy; I couldn’t stay bought in for too long before I was jarred back into the reality of it all. I will say, though, that the ending moments were well done and worked in the grand scheme of things. Through everything, the job did make a difference in our lead’s life, and the quick moments with Streep and Blunt at the conclusion were nice to see.

The Devil Wears Prada 5/10

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photography:
[1] Nigel (Stanley Tucci) and Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) in Twentieth Century Fox Film, The Devil Wears Prada – 2006
[2] Left to Right: Anne Hathaway as Andrea, Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly and Emily Blunt as Emily in Twentieth Century Fox Film, The Devil Wears Prada.

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