The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

This movie is the kind I couldn’t have dragged anyone to see. This movie is the kind to which I wouldn’t have been dragged myself.

So how did I end up spending a July 4 holiday watching The Devil Wears Prada? Blame Meryl Streep.

I’m no Meryl Streep devotee by any leap of the imagination, but the idea of her playing an intimidating, icy power figure seemed too tempting to pass up.

Under less accomplished hands, the character of Miranada Priestly could come off as a flat bogeywoman. But Streep can make even Miranada’s brand of sociopathic leadership feel human. Which she does beautifully.

The rest of the story is pretty predictable to write.

Girl moves to big city. Girl finds herself a fish out water. Girl learns to swim with sharks. Girl loses friends and boyfriend. Girl goes back to basics.

Anne Hathaway plays Andy, an assistant to Streep’s demanding fashion magazine editor Miranda. She’s moves to New York to become a journalist. Instead, she’s subjected to Miranada’s sweeping demands. Eventually, she proves her mettle and becomes Miranada’s top assistant.

But to get there, Andy changes herself bit by bit to fit her environment, and that eventually gets in the way of her life. When she learns of some backhand maneuvering to ouster Miranada from her position, Andy is confronted with the direction her life has taken.

The Devil Wears Prada is the kind of movie where the story in the foreground — Andy’s voyage of self-discovery — isn’t as fascinating as the story in the background — life in high fashion where egos swell.

Although Miranda is constantly in the background, it’s the snatches of her own life which give the movie its most interesting moments.

When personal crises hit Miranda, just enough humanity seeps through to make her professional demeanor all that more frightening. And she achieves it by barely raising her voice.

Streep really is the only reason to see The Devil Wears Prada. Hathaway does a decent turn where chick-flick material is concerned, but it’s not exactly the kind of story that let’s her show off the kind of performance as with Lurleen in Brokeback Mountain.

Stanley Tucci does a wonderful job as the gay fashion director Nigel, but, um, how many times have we seen a Carson Kressley type on screen before? Well, just as long as the gay character gets all the best lines.

As a summer confection, The Devil Wears Prada isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon at the theater. But in terms of getting a bang for your admission price, wait for the DVD instead.