(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)
(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)
SW SCORE: 40
4 out of 5 🐙
Secret Santa is a longstanding American office tradition. There’s nothing like forced camaraderie between co-workers who probably can’t stand each other, all for the greater good of the Xmas commercial engine. My Secret Santa <name hidden to protect the innocent> handed the recently released The Devil Wears Prada DVD to me looked at me doubtfully and said “It was on your list so I got it.” I reassured the gentleman that he chose well, but he replied, “Isn’t this a chick flick?”
Granted the chick flick warning signs abound in this particular film. The presence of Anne Hathaway, veteran of The Princess Diaries and Meryl Streep, grand queen of legendary dramas that scream “tender moments”, should alert any self-respecting testosterone mule of treacherous waters ahead. But fear not insecure males! The romantic scenes in this movie are few and far between. Don’t worry, fans of Arnold and Sly and Sam Jackson. This is simply a movie about a bright, naïve person who secures employment with what may be the most horrifying boss in motion picture history.
Granted, shitty motion picture bosses are a cinematic tradition. Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole), the smarmy middle manager in the seminal comedy Office Space, is awful, but he’s only a caricature. Perry White (Superman franchise) is also a cartoon. Same with J. Jonah Jameson (Spider-Man franchise). The philandering executives in The Apartment are cruel to C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) but their cruelty is spread out over four of them so none of them are individually a huge monster. You might say Michael Douglas in Wall Street is a beast, especially considering a major twist in the film, but at least he gave Charlie Sheen the impression that he cares about him and his future. Miranda Priestly (Streep) is no two-dimensional figure, and she does not care if Anne Hathaway succeeds. She couldn’t care less.
The acting is excellent. Andy Sachs is a bright-eyed assistant with complete contempt for her boss’ industry. Hathaway plays her with quiet determination and a fine range of honest emotions. Streep plays evil on two legs with such precision that it should be a textbook example. She can cut her employees with such wicked, witty venom that she simultaneously demands applause and hatred. Darth Vader would be proud.
The plot is simple. Sachs is a spunky 21-year-old who has just graduated from a prestigious college and has cut her teeth on a college newspaper writing important stories about labor strikes and violence against women. Through dumb luck circumstance and a defiant speech, she gets a job as second assistant to New York City’s fashion deity, Miranda Priestly, Editor-in-Chief of Runway magazine. Sachs struggles mightily at first, but proves her mettle eventually. Things move forward to the inevitable soul searching climax. It’s nothing new as far as a classic story goes, but it’s how they do it that counts.
Along the way we get a surprisingly good and natural performance from Adrian Grenier, who plays Sachs’ supportive but frustrated boyfriend, Nate. Emily Blunt plays Miranda’s 1st assistant, Emily, a fantastically snobby fashion snob. But it’s Stanley Tucci who steals every scene he is in with a largely hilarious turn, but he caps it off with the most crushing and tender moment in the movie.
If you’ve ever had a bad boss (and if you haven’t please email me and give me career advice) you can relate to this movie. Your devil might not have worn Prada, but snakes come in many skins.
(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.
(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)
(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so
(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)