I saw The Devil Wears Prada last night at our local AMC. It was about what I expected: a well-done, well-financed studio movie with some reliably good performances.
Based on a novel by Lauren Weisberger (whose own experiences working for the editor of Vogue magazine, Anna Wintour, form the basis for the novel), the story centers around recent Northwestern graduate Andy Sachs (played by Anne Hathway), who comes to New York City looking to become a journalist but finds out that no one in the big city wants to actually hire her as a reporter. So she interviews for a job at Runway (the film's stand-in for Vogue) as the editor-in-chief's assistant. The Editor-in-chief, Miranda Priestly, (played by Meryl Streep) is the Devil who wears Prada, and though her character isn't nearly as terrible as the title insinuates, she's very good as the tougher than average boss-lady. There are some movies that Meryl cannot come in and save, (like Prime and Prarie Home Companion for example), but what she can do is come into a solid studio entertainment like this, and then class up the whole place by being an actress first and a movie star second. I think they cast Hathaway in this because she's just playing a slightly older version of her role in The Princess Diaries. Apparently, people can't get enough of her going from frumpy bore to Audrey Hepburn in a single montage.
Here's what I liked: 1) Meryl Streep's character gives a fantastic speech to Anne Hathway that concisely explains how the sometimes ludicrous clothes we see on runways in Paris and New York filter down to the rack at Target. Great writing like that helped me believe, at least for the two hours I was there, that fashion really is important. Stanley Tucci's character adds a few stories that give weight to the idea that fashion actually can be an artform.
2) I had to think too long to come up with a second one, so I'll just say that everything else that is good about this movie is merely that: good. Nothing else aside from Meryl's assured and entirely believable performance, really stood-out.
What I didn't like was this: 1) The dude who played the young actor who gets murdered in L.A. Confidential -- you know the blonde guy who got arrested by Kevin Spacey during the "Movie Premiere Pot Bust"? He's in this thing, and I don't know what happened to that guy in the nearly 10 years since that movie came out, but his eyebrows have become lfrightening, strangely-colored things that are far too big for his face. They looked like they'd been glued above his eyes by a nervous make-up girl. And though his character was supposed to be a suave, worldly writer, he was just dull and eyebrow-creepy in every scene. Blecch.
2) Meryl Streep's little smile at the end. Hathaway's character ended their professional relationship badly, Meryl's character has proven herself to be cold, though essentially human, and some days after Hathaway quits her job, the former combatants spot each other from opposite sides of the street. Anne waves and Meryl stares at her, doesn't wave, and then drops into her car. As they drive away, Meryl smiles wistfully. Completely out of character and it was the only time I didn't believe Meryl was this character. Not every character has to be redeemed, Hollywood. I promise.
Anyway. Not that any of you are going to rush out and see this thing, but if your wives or girlfriends want to go see it, I'm just letting you know it won't be as grueling an experience as you might have thought.
Also, I laughed very very hard today. Not House of Dogs hard, but very hard. I don't know if it was because I'd just read Moriarty's Miami Vice review on Aintitcool.com, but when I saw this trailer for the new Reno 911 movie called Reno 911: Miami, I about busted a gut. It is exactly the opposite of Michael Mann's movie. Click here and scroll down. It's hosted on YouTube.
Anyway, I'm off to see TC Boyle at the Margaret Mitchell House. I don't expect to talk to him because I'm not having any books signed, but I'll let you know how it goes.