Streep wickedly funny in ‘Prada’
Although nobody will admit it, Meryl Streep’s character of Runway magazine’s fashion editor, Miranda Priestly, seems to mirror that of real-life Vogue editor Anna Wintour. The two-time Oscar winner is considered by many to be one of our finest talents, and she shines here in the role made popular from the 2003 novel penned by Lauren Weisberger. The book caused quite a sensation in the fashion industry, and some wonder if Weisberger infused a lot of herself in the role that Anne Hathaway portrays in the movie. You see, the author of the book was in real life a one-time assistant to Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Hmmmmm, payback? For those interested in working the very back-stabbing world of high fashion, this is your movie. Anne Hathaway is magnificent as well, playing Andy Sachs, who applies for the job as Miranda’s junior assistant for Runway magazine. The funny thing is that Andy has just graduated with a degree in journalism from Northwestern and this job wasn’t exactly her first choice. I mean, she is considered too frumpy for the part and here she is a size 6! Gee, maybe a job with The New Yorker would take someone so “heavy” but like the song goes, if she can make it at Runway she can make it anywhere. The funny thing is she, too, goes through a transformation that can only come from the real world and would never be taught at a prestigious university because that wouldn’t be politically correct. Here she learns from a reluctant mentor who sees to it that Andy leaves the cocoon and blossoms into a more marketable commodity.
But this is Streep’s movie, and she carries every glorious minute of it. In the hands of veteran director David Frankel, Streep shines. Maybe that’s because Frankel’s background includes HBO’s “Sex and the City” and “Entourage,” which gives him the advantage of highlighting actors at their best. He knows how to make them play off one another with such ease, especially in an ensemble setting. It’s no coincidence either that the role of Andy’s boyfriend is played by Adrian Grenier from “Entourage.” Frankel at the helm was the best thing for this movie, and he does a nice job bringing a touch of humanity to the otherwise bitchy individual that Streep plays. Oh sure, she can’t keep a husband because she wears the pants (and designs them too, probably) and happiness on the surface may elude her, but in Streep’s hands, the character becomes more than just a two-dimensional figure. She’s always been an incredible actress with a wide range of emotions, but it’s easy to overlook her accomplishments as a comedic actress. Who can forget her as the love interest in Albert Brooks’ “Defending Your Life?” from 1991? Or as Aunt Josephine in “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” from 2004? She was hysterical in that comedy, and Frankel taps into that side of her quite nicely. Here she is a little drier and wonderful in the role in the most sarcastic way. She truly enjoyed herself here, tossing out some of the best comedic zingers ever.
And let me tell the guys out there that you’d be doing a disservice to yourself to not check this movie out. I may know diddley-squat about fashionable items such as Chanel, Donna Karan, Bill Blass, Galliano and Prada, but there are plenty of runway models who apparently wear this stuff. Eye candy! It’s funny, too, because all of these things that people stress over in the bigger picture makes you laugh because this whole business seems so frivolous. I know without fashion we wouldn’t have any anorexic supermodels and in turn where would our talent pool exist for tomorrow’s generation?
One thing is for sure: “The Devil Wears Prada” is to fashion what “Spinal Tap” is for anything to do with the business of rock ‘n’ roll. “Prada” is a must-see because it has intelligent characters and doesn’t require juvenile dialogue or an explosion to fake keeping you riveted to the story. And the best part is you don’t have to dress up to see this movie.
– Howie Nave is host/manager of The Improv comedy club inside Harveys and reviews films for seven radio stations throughout northern California and Nevada, including the Sirius Radio Network every Sunday evening. He hosts “Howie’s Morning Rush” on Tahoe’s KRLT radio and you can see his film reviews every Friday morning on KOLO ABC TV Channel 8.