The Devil Wears Prada (20th Century Fox, PG-13)

Let's be honest here: The reason why I chose to review The Devil Wears Prada is because Anne Hathaway is probably the single prettiest girl in Hollywood right now.

 

OK, let's get something out of the way before I head off in the direction of rant: I am not a member of The Devil Wears Prada's target audience. What's more, Prada will immensely please its target audience, and I won't be at all surprised if industry analysts are amazed at how much money the film will make. I'm willing to bet it will be a success, and probably a large one ($100 million-plus in the American market seems a reasonable estimate).

That said, I hated it. Let's be honest here: The reason why I chose to review The Devil Wears Prada instead of handing it off to a likelier member of my team of reviewers is because Anne Hathaway, who plays the film's protagonist, Andy Sachs, is probably the single prettiest girl in Hollywood right now. And I'm not saying this in the wake of her successful and acclaimed supporting role as Jake Gyllenhaal's wife in Brokeback Mountain or her "adult" turn in Barbara Kopple's unfairly overlooked direct-to-video Havoc; I've been saying that Anne was the prettiest girl in Hollywood back in her Princess Diaries years, when it was still considered creepy to do so (whatever; she was 18).

Hathaway's been getting tons of press (how many magazine covers is she on right now? Ten?) regarding this role, all of which says that it will be her breakout film, make her a household name, and blah blah blah, but it's really just more of the same in her thus far tragically limited career. That isn't to say that this film might not make her a name, but it feels way too obvious and familiar with the types of roles she gets cast in, and borders on offensive in the way it treats her.

For one, she's cast as the stereotypical dowdy and fat (but smart and spirited) girl in the middle of a horde of pretty but stupid and shallow girls. However, in this case, the filmmakers don't even give her the usual She's All That treatment to unsuccessfully make her look like she's dowdy and fat-until the makeover scene (and yes, there is a makeover scene-how is this a big step up from The Princess Diaries again?), she just looks like a regular exceptionally pretty girl, as opposed to the regular exceptionally pretty rich girl she looks like post-makeover. She's also given lots of lines that underline how dumpy she is apparently supposed to be, such as "I know I'm not skinny or glamorous," or other, similar discrepancies with what is on the screen.

To top it all off, Hathaway's not very good in this movie. She's proven in the past that she is talented as both a comedic and dramatic actress, but here she's just too far over the top. Conversely, an overcast Meryl Streep is quite good as the boss-from-Hell of the title, Miranda Priestly, editor of Runway magazine, as is Stanley Tucci as the long-put-upon Nigel. Emily, the assistant who just got promoted and whom Andy is replacing, is played by My Summer of Love's Emily Blunt. I thought Blunt was great in Love, but here I couldn't help wishing her role had been filled by Judy Greer, who admittedly played a similar role (to perfection) in 13 Going on 30.

But then, when it comes down to it, I saw this film for Hathaway, and her casting and performance irritated me as much as it possibly could. If The Devil Wears Prada does turn out to be the hit she needs to make her a star, and if she continues down this road, it might not be long before I jump off the bandwagon of Hathaway fans.

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