Release Date:  June 30, 2006
Rating:  PG-13 (for some sensuality)
Genre:  Comedy, Drama, Adaptation
Run Time:  105 min.
Director:  David Frankel
Actors:  Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci, Adrian Grenier, Tracie Thoms, and Rich Sommer.

As I sit in my home/basement office in my old shorts and t-shirt with no makeup, swigging coffee from a faded mug and working at a desktop that looks like it was ransacked by someone searching for an important document, I am awed that there is a whole other world out there where underpaid women work at a torrid pace in $1,500 outfits and stiletto heels, scurrying about their impeccable desks and cow-towing to perfectionist lady tyrants in high rises. 

Talk about a "take me away" movie!  The Devil Wears Prada gives the 99 percent of us regular folks a humorous, insightful, satirical glimpse into the world of those obsessed by and enslaved to the colossal business of high fashion.

Based on the novel by Lauren Weisberger, Devil is really a "fish out of water" story, in which Anne Hathaway is so gifted at playing, as she demonstrated so aptly in The Princess Diaries.  New college graduate Andy Sachs (Hathaway), a sharp, but dowdily dressed journalist wannabe, finds herself feeling dumpy as she somehow lands a job amongst New York's top elite fashion decision-makers at a Vogue-type magazine.  The women she works with are skinny as rails ("Size two is the new four, and zero is the new two," she's told), and mean as snakes.  The woman who trains her, Emily (Emily Blunt) makes it clear that Andy is a "get the coffee" assistant, while she, Emily, is more of a go-to-Paris with the boss kind of right-hand woman. 

Her other "friend" at work is Nigel, played brilliantly by Stanley Tucci.  When Andy complains to him about the strangeness of the company's values, he sarcastically tells her, "Oh yes, that's what this make believe industry is all about - inner beauty."  But the worst person at the office, by far, is Andy's boss, the infamous, powerful, sharp-tongued fashion devil, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep).  Priestly has already gone through five assistants before Andie, and her unrealistic and incessant demands are usually poorly fulfilled, resulting in her belittling, caustic, shame-filled one-line barbs.

As the story begins, Andy is set on remaining true to herself - polyester sweaters and all - and remaining relatable to her chef boyfriend (Adrian Grenier) and her casual, artsy friends.  But as the headiness of the powerful industry tries to work its seduction on her, Andy finds herself donning the top designer fashions, slathering on the makeup, losing weight, sucking up to the boss, and walking and talking like those she once considered hideously snobby and shallow.  As the big Paris show approaches and her head is turned by a hunky, smooth-talking guy from the industry, Andy must make a decision about which path will bring the greatest fulfillment, and where her core values truly lie.

The Devil Wears Prada is not a complicated movie, but it sure is "eye candy" for those intrigued by fashion.  The colors and styles and dazzle of this world so far removed from mainstream America are truly fascinating to behold.  And the players - especially the icy Miranda and her assistant, Emily, are amazing character studies that are supposedly modeled after real people in the industry.  Yikes!

There are tons of laughs in this satirical film, but there are also several cautions for moral audiences.  I brought my 16-year-old to the screening but regretted that I had.  On one hand, she's learning about the high value of sexual abstinence, but at the movies, it's a whole different story.  Hollywood feels compelled to spread the message that it's normal and expected that girls would sleep not only with their boyfriends, but also the one-night-stand guys they meet in romantic cities like Paris.  In two hours at a movie, months of positive teaching at church and school are undermined and eroded.  Though nothing was explicitly shown, the sexual portrayals were clear - but needless, rendering this movie morally recommendable only for adults.  Other cautions include the movie's language, which was sprinkled with mostly mild obscenities.

If one can wade through and ignore the casual sexual escapades, however, he or she will find a witty comedy that shows how very shallow, obsessed, greedy, and prideful certain industries and their players have become.  Perhaps the moral of the story is this: "If you decide to turn your back on your family and friends, make sure it's for something more important than shirts and shoes."   You know, I'm growing fonder of my old shorts by the minute.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Alcohol depicted several times.
  • Language:  Several obscenities (less than 10), mostly mild.
  • Sex:  Several portrayals of sexual encounters, though nothing explicitly shown.
  • Violence:  None.