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20th Century Fox presents
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

"I'm not your baby."
- Andie (Anne Hathaway)

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: January 04, 2007

Stars: Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway
Director: David Frankel

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sensuality
Run Time: 01h:49m:23s
Release Date: December 12, 2006
UPC: 024543374404
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B-CC- B-

DVD Review

Is there anything that Meryl Streep cannot do? Some of her early forays into comedy (e.g., She-Devil) may have fallen a little flat, but in recent years she's been on a tear, putting together a body of work that will stand alongside her dramatic turns in films like Sophie's Choice and Kramer versus Kramer. And she's very much the haute couture 800-lb. gorilla of The Devil Wears Prada, an amiable if awfully conventional movie elevated by Streep's performance and by the peekaboo aspects into the world of fashion glossies.

Based on the novel of the same name, the story is of particular interest to the fashion world for being a thinly veiled portrait of Anna Wintour, longtime editor of Vogue. Wintour isn't well known enough to the masses for this to be a straight-up parody of her—they may not believe it on Madison Avenue, but a Wintour sendup doesn't have the same broad appeal of something like Primary Colors, but anybody who's had a whiff of a grievance with a boss can relate. In many respects and even though she’s got lead billing, Streep's performance is kind of a supporting one, though she colors every scene and every exchange in the movie. Dramaturgically, she's the runway version of Hannibal Lecter.

Our true heroine is Andie, played winningly by Anne Hathaway—she's just out of Northwestern and dreams of journalistic glory, and more or less falls into a job as second assistant to Miranda Priestly (Streep), editor of Runway magazine. Andie is supposed to be a frumpy little sort in her off-the-rack pullovers and with her split ends, but this being Hollywood, she's just one stop at the Bendel cosmetics counter away from fitting in with the rest of the waif-thin, high-end Runway masthead. When she starts she is—horrors!—a size 6, but as soon as she gets with the program and sticks to a diet that resembles that of someone with an eating disorder, she'll be ready for advancement.

The story, then, is principally about whether or not Andie is going to go over to the dark side—weighing in for the virtuous are her devoted boyfriend and a passel of college pals, all of them finding their way in the big city. Hathaway is very winning, and you can see just what the filmmakers are going for, the young gal in the big town—she can turn the world on with her smile, she can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile. But in truth she's a lot less interesting than Miranda, who isn't really the monster that I anticipated. Yes, of course, she's an overbearing and demanding boss—but the points that are made about her throughout are all true: that if she were a man all the Dragon Lady stuff wouldn't be an issue, and that if Andie doesn't care for the job, there are literally hundreds of young women just panting for the chance. We get a pretty conventional, warmed-over morality tale, then—will she jilt her college sweetheart Nate for the randy up-and-coming freelance journalist with the bedroom eyes? Will she strap on her Manohlo Blahnik mules to stomp over the other women at Runway who may not have her journalistic ambition?

You can phone in most of the story beats, but you still have to recognize that the movie is made with panache. Costume designer Patricia Field's work is attention-grabbing without being ludicrous, which had to have been a danger; and director of photography Florian Ballhaus shoots things breezily and fluidly. Streep and Hathaway are well supported, too, especially by Stanley Tucci as an art director who eats Miranda's dirt and calls it manna. Like an old issue of a fashion magazine, the movie is sort of disposable entertainment, but you’re likely to have a fine time breezing through its pages.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Perhaps it's because dOc was sent a screener disc to review, but the transfer looks a little blotchy, with erratic color levels and no small amount of debris.

Image Transfer Grade: C

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: This again may be a problem exclusively with the screener pressing, but the disc sent for review has some horrid sync problems, with the sound racing a few frames ahead of the picture. The inevitable musical choice of Madonna’s Vogue is piped through satisfactorily, at least.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 36 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Illusionist, In Her Shoes, The Family Stone
15 Deleted Scenes
6 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director David Frankel, producer Wendy Finerman, costume designer Patricia Field, screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna, editor Mark Livolsi, director of photography Florian Ballhaus
Packaging: Unknown
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. deleted scenes commentary
  2. soundtrack CD promo
Extras Review: It's a party worthy of Fashion Week on the commentary track, with an army of filmmakers on hand—it's a nice roundtable, going over what was changed from Lauren Weisberger's novel, details of the production, and the universal awe for Meryl Streep. Many of the same voices and much of the same info pop up again in the featurettes, starting with The Trip to the Big Screen (12m:02s), featuring director David Frankel, producer Wendy Finerman, and screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna. The cast is more prominent in NYC and Fashion (06m:24s), and they all tout Fashion Visionary Patricia Field (08m:45s) in a piece devoted to the scarlet-haired costume designer. Getting Valentino (02m:53s) is about securing the designer for a crucial cameo, giving the feature verisimilitude; Boss From Hell (02m:35s) is a quickie bit of fluff that looks like it was produced for TV.

There's not much to the fifteen deleted scenes—they run less than 22 minutes altogether—though the commentary from Frankel and editor Mark Livolsi is jokey and fun. And the gag reel features lots of Hathaway tripping up, both on her lines and on her architectural strappy pumps.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

It's no surprise that Meryl Streep is spectacular, as she is in anything—but overall the movie feels a little shopworn, and you might want to drive a harder bargain if you’re selling your soul for haute couture.

 


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