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Devil Dominates Debutante

Streep steals Prada spotlight from under-qualified Hathaway

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The Devil Wears Prada is a bit like Sex and the City meets a grownup version of The Princess Diaries. For this reason alone, I understand why casters chose Anne Hathaway to play protagonist Andy Sachs. The only problem? Anne Hathaway is far from capable of playing an adult just yet. And before you spout off on her amazingly adult disrobing scene in Brokeback Mountain, I still say she was a weaker link among that talented young cast.

The Devil isn't all bad, though. Meryl Streep is a spot-on, perfect choice as Beelzebubian fashion mag EIC Miranda Priestly. The silver-haired two-time Oscar winner embodies everything that is evil and soulless about the character—even in the film's production stills. Stanley Tucci, in my mind the consummate contemporary supporting actor, also shines as Nigel, Priestly’s effeminate right-hand.

Other notables appearing are Entourage’s Adrian Grenier as Andy’s lackluster boyfriend and heartthrobby Simon Baker (The Ring Two, Something New) who, in this film, sports scarily frosted eyebrows as fashion writer playboy Christian Thompson. No doubt, The Devil will have the young and fashion-starved reeling. In one scene, Nigel hands Andy pairs of Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo shoes, and I distinctly heard at least three women in the audience gasp. The masculine types will enjoy a bit of eye-candy, with sexy models draped all over the screen.

At 106 minutes long, the film drags a bit by the end, and though it’s painfully evident upfront that Priestly is the devil and Sachs is the tormented youth, a resolution could’ve come a few minutes sooner. A rather cute, yet not terribly unpredictable finish is worth the wait, but some might view later scenes as redundant.

If the title suggests a battle of good versus evil, it’s not the only clash the picture sets up. There’s also a bit of the young versus old. Hathaway, due largely to her chock-full-of-coming-of-age-pics resume, keeps the film from reaching any sort of pinnacle. A lesser-known protagonist could’ve vaulted it to potentially unknown heights, especially with Streep and Tucci carrying the bulk of the load. Though I’ve never read the book on which the film is based, Internet reviews claim the story remains generally faithful, but that the Priestly character Streep portrays is a bit different than fans of the paperback might’ve expected. Conversely, those who offered that analysis also said they got past it because of Streep’s dominance onscreen.

I did read a snippet of the novel's text and found Sach’s narration to be a little sharper-edged than that of Hathaway (even after her “transformation”). And I could’ve sworn she was a smoker, but nary a cigarette shows up in her mouth.

All-in-all, The Devil makes for a cutesy fashion movie with a heart, and if that’s what you’re looking for, by all means, go ogle the straps and sequins. If not, then maybe wait a decade until Hathaway can finally really play an adult. (P.S. Streep was 30 when she won her first Oscar.)