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"The Devil Wears Prada"

Directed by David Frankel.
Written by Aline Brosh McKenna.  Based on the novel by Lauren Weisberger.
Starring Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci and Adrian Grenier.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  6/21/06


I had a choice to make tonight--the freebie I had a pass for to see "Wordplay", and the freebie I had for "The Devil Wears Prada."  I decided to select based on the theater, and since the latter was playing closer to home, I made the call to check that one out.  And, like clockwork, I blew it again.

It's not that "The Devil Wears Prada" didn't have promise; in fact, I thought the trailer was decent, and the idea of Meryl Streep playing Bosszilla made me think this might have a shot at being average.  Streep plays Miranda Priestly, high priestess at the high-profile style magazine Runway; besides having the most keen eye in the business, she is a hard-charging megabitch when it comes to dealing with people at all levels within her company.  After having chewed up a number of assistants, she hires fresh-outta-Evanston college grad Andrea Sachs (Anne Hathaway), simply because she's smart and she appears to have aspirations to get into journalism one day.  What Andrea doesn't realize is that she might be making the worst mistake of her life--Miranda steps all over Andrea's pride as she berates her at every turn while being so ridiculously demanding that all of Andrea's friends and her boyfriend (played by Adrian Grenier, from "Entourage") beg her to switch jobs.  After committing to herself that she'll stay at Runway for a year, she endures countless pains to keep up and make the connections that could solidify a career in journalism.

Streep is great as Miranda; in fact, the film rightly leans on her to give us the comedy required to drive us through the film's initial segments.  But, the Miranda act gets old quickly--Streep can only do so much to keep her character interesting as she constantly stomps her employees' collective soul.  Beyond her, the cast is kind of ehh, the script is really ehh, and watching Andrea fall down the rabbit hole--predictably going from awkward neophyte to young sophisticate in just a few months while alienating all of her former non-work friends--kind of sucks, because you know where it's going the whole time, even if you haven't read the novel or seen movies like this before.  Our packed house theater was mostly quiet throughout the supposedly-funny parts of the movie; I think everyone got a kick out of Streep, but outside of her, it was chilly in my audience, for sure.

When I got up to leave, I realized that "The Devil Wears Prada" might be better than I wanted to give it credit for, but it never creates the feeling that the filmmakers truly aspired to anything more than a popcorn muncher.  Directed by a regular HBO director (who has worked on "Entourage" as well as "Sex and the City", "Band of Brothers" and "From the Earth to the Moon"), the film doesn't feel all that ritzy.  The cameos, by models like Heidi Klum and Gisele, don't feel all that ritzy either.  The film's locations, in New York and what appears to be Paris, don't inspire awe like they should; maybe this would have been a better TV movie.  As it is, this film will hopefully fade quietly into the night.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09