For the past month or so, I have been eagerly awaiting this movie. I love Meryl Streep, I like Anne Hathaway, I though the world of magazine publishing could make a great setting for a movie, and I thought the premise of the book 'The Devil Wears Prada' had a lot of movie potential. So, now that I've seen it, I have to say it is one of the funniest movies I've seen this year. The screenwriter has maintained everything that was funny about the book, as well as chucked a lot of the duller subplots, and has formulated a movie that is a great deal more enjoyable than the book.
I'm sure you're all familiar with the basic premise - naive small-town girl comes to the big city hoping to be a journalist, and gets a job as assistant to Miranda Priestly, the much-feared editor of 'Runway' magazine (a thinly veiled take on 'Vogue' magazine, and its editor). Thankfully, the cast was almost perfect (though I did think Simon Baker was somewhat miscast at the rakish writer who takes a liking to the protagonist, Andrea), and elevated the movie to a level it would not have otherwise reached.
Meryl Streep is absolutely amazing as Miranda Priestly, and I especially liked the way that, as Miranda, she never raised her voice above normal speaking level. Streep has said she based this mannerism on Clint Eastwood, who as Dirty Harry talks very quietly but still intimidates. This made Miranda much more interesting than the stereotypical, screaming gorgon she could have become. She is certainly the best thing about this movie, and I think the odds are good that she'll score a best-actress nod at the next Oscars. Miranda is also made more complex (and slightly more sympathetic) than in the book, which I thought was very good. In the book, which I recently read, the author (who actually worked as an assistant to 'Vogue' editor Anna Wintour) was very bitter and whiny about the difficulties of her former job, and she made Miranda out to be a totally two-dimensional villain with absolutely no redeeming qualities. However, the movie shows us (briefly) a different side of Miranda - we see the compromises she has had to make to get to the top, and we see the toll this has taken on her personal life. We aren't made to agree with her diva-like behaviour, but we can understand how hard her life must be.
I also thought that Anne Hathaway was very appealing in her role - she made Andrea more likable and less snobbish than she was in the book (although the screenwriter deserves credit for that, as well), and she looked great in the couture she wore through most of the movie.
The supporting players were also very good, especially Emily Blunt (as Andrea's caustic fellow assistant, Emily) and Stanley Tucci (as Miranda's loyal but beleaguered right-hand man, Nigel). On many occasions, they stole scenes from the ostensibly 'central' character of Andrea.
The movie, while maintaining the book's premise, does not follow the book too closely, which I liked. The entire 'Lily' subplot from the book is eliminated (readers of the book will know what I mean), and Andrea's parents and boyfriend are less significant in the movie than in the book. I agreed with these changes, though - I found those aspects of the book to be quite boring, and their omission made for a more streamlined movie.
I strongly recommend this movie to virtually anyone, and I just hope "The Nanny Diaries" (another somewhat-similar 'chick lit' movie adaptation, coming out soon with Scarlett Johannson, that I am eagerly awaiting) lives up to the shining example of this excellent movie.