‘Devil’ is heavenly comedy

Chris Azzopardi
By | 2006-06-29T09:00:00-04:00 June 29th, 2006|Entertainment|

It usually won’t fly when an interviewee seeking a job in the realm of fashion – where models prance around in baby-sized clothing and nibble on celery sticks – dresses like an older Pippi Longstocking.
But like any journalism major fresh from college, Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) – who wears frumpy, knitted sweaters and knee-high black tights – wants to land a writing position at a New York publishing giant. But a fashion magazine?
During her gruff interview with Runway Magazine mogul – and real bitch – Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), the high-strung editor whose uptight staff is like a bunch of overworked Pinocchios (if Pinocchio were queer and didn’t wear bowties), Andy casually struts in wearing a cotton blend sweater and shapeless skirt.
“Are we doing a before and after piece I don’t know about?” says Nigel (Stanley Tucci), Miranda’s glaringly gay right hand man.
But Andy unknowingly lands the job as Miranda’s assistant.
It’s not what she hoped for, but playing Starbucks gopher, and obtaining a copy of the new “Harry Potter” book – no, not the most recent published one, but the spankin’ new JK Rowling manuscript – must open the doors for something bigger, something better. Right?
It’s hard work striving in an empire where models briskly swan around in designer labels and rely on the “don’t eat until you’re about to faint” motto. There’s another issue Miranda doesn’t fail to notice: Andy’s fashion sense doesn’t extend past Wal-Mart’s clearance rack.
When Andy receives a phone call and starts jotting down a message for Miranda, she asks the person on the other line, “Can you spell Gabbanna?”
But the going gets tougher when Miranda’s demands snowball, phoning Andy non-stop and assigning her to seemingly unachievable tasks.
“By all means move at a glacial pace,” Miranda tells Andy. “You know how that thrills me.”
It’s the job every girl in N.Y. kills for, but that none can live up to. Like Miranda points out, every other girl was pretty, but not smart. Andy, though, refuses to fail, even if it means sacrificing her relationship with her distressed boyfriend Nate (Adrian Grenier).
Andy begins primping herself, with the help of Nigel, but soon realizes that the competitive kingdom of high-demanding glam is a lonely one.
“How do you know you’re doing well working for Miranda?” Nigel asks. “Your personal life falls apart. When your whole life goes up in smoke, that’s when it’s time for a promotion.”
From the sassy wave of her hand to the abrupt “that’s all” to shoo away associates, the cunning Streep inhabits her role as a fire-breathing dragon tipped to go off at the sound of a pin dropping. She draws many of the laughs with her wisecracking, sarcastic wit that plays well off of Hathaway’s endearing charm.
But Hathaway’s character wises up, dandifies herself in Jimmy Choos stilettos, gets a sleek new do and goes head-to-head against Miranda’s snippy chief assistant Emily.
Tucci plays Nigel. Witty, charming and sometimes excessively blunt, Nigel tosses around nicknames like “sweetheart” and “darling” and becomes Andy’s rock and sly mentor at Runway.
“Don’t make me feed you to one of the models,” he tells Andy when she’s on the verge of calling it quits.
“The Devil Wears Prada” doesn’t always steer clear of cliches and has the occasional tendency to veer off into campy-land, but Streep keeps the film afloat with her ripping, bitchy comedic flow and her ability to balance it with delectable drama.

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in GQ, Vanity Fair and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.