The Devil Wears Prada, based on the best-selling novel by Lauren Weisberger and directed by David Frankel, is a delightfully lighthearted spoof of hellish bosses and the fashion magazine industry.
Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries) plays Andrea “Andy” Sachs, a wide-eyed college graduate eager to break into journalism who applies for a job at “Runway” magazine as second assistant to renowned editor-in-chief, Miranda Priestley (Meryl Streep). Miranda is the boss from Dante’s Inferno.
Her terrorized employees scatter for cover upon her arrival, and her first assistant (Emily Blunt) is so intimidated that she’s afraid to use the ladies room for fear of missing any incoming phone calls. Nonetheless, Andy takes the job and gradually gets caught up in the glamour and excitement of the fashion industry while alienating her friends and family in the process.
With a demeanor as frosty as her white coifed hair, laser-like stares and contemptuous putdowns (“The details of your incompetence do not interest me”), Streep is wonderfully wicked. Her character takes devilish delight in making Andy’s life hell, from making her fetch coffee to assigning the near impossible task of obtaining a copy of the manuscript of the latest Harry Potter book for her twin daughters.
When, in a brief moment of vulnerability, Miranda confides in Andy, it’s a tribute to Streep’s acting skills that she can make Miranda’s character even remotely sympathetic. In a lesser actresses’ hands, the role could easily become a caricature, but Streep’s performance makes her real and is worthy of a 14th Oscar nomination.
Hathaway is likable as Andy, who is both bewildered and bemused by the company’s weight and fashion conscience atmosphere. She dubs the female staff “Clackers” because of the sound of their stiletto heels and is informed that as a size 6, she is considered the “new size 14′.
Hathaway convincingly transforms from frumpy assistant to “Runway” employee clone and models the Chanel, Valentino and Marc Jacobs designs with finesse. As Nigel, Miranda’s second-in-command, Stanley Tucci gives a solidly droll performance, playing Henry Higgins to Andy’s Eliza Doolittle. Emily Blunt steals every scene she’s in as Miranda’s weight-obsessed first assistant, Emily (“I’m one stomach flu away from reaching my goal weight.”).
The rest of the supporting cast is adequate at best; Adrian Grenier of TV’s Entourage doesn’t have much to do as Andy’s boyfriend. Likewise, Australian actor Simon Baker pulls off an impressive American accent, but is otherwise forgettable as a writer who attempts ta woo Andy.
Overall, The Devil Wears Prada promises a devilishly good time at the movies.