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Film review: Streep devilishly droll in ‘Prada’

Film is predictable but has appealing cattiness and bite

SHARE Film review: Streep devilishly droll in ‘Prada’

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA — *** — Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci; rated PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, violence).

Give the makers of "The Devil Wears Prada" credit for being smart enough to know who the real draw will be — Meryl Streep.

The funny thing is, in a lot of the promotional materials, she's second-billed to "Princess Diaries" star Anne Hathaway. But make no mistake about it, this comedy is very much a Meryl Streep movie.

Streep's fiercely funny performance here, and her gentler, goofier turn in the current "Prairie Home Companion," showcase the multiple Oscar-winner's less serious side — a refreshing change of pace after her comic talents went to waste last year in "Prime."

As for the film, "The Devil Wears Prada" is a little predictable, but it does have a certain appealing cattiness and bite.

This adaptation of Lauren Weisberger's best-selling novel has Hathaway playing Andrea "Andy" Sachs, a wide-eyed journalism-school graduate who has just applied for a job at a fashion magazine called Runway. Andy is a supposed "fashion victim" who is clearly out of her element here, but for whatever reason, dragon-lady editor Miranda Priestly (Streep) decides to hire her as a "second assistant" — a job that basically entails answering phones, getting coffee and hanging up Miranda's coat each morning.

Andy also receives a makeover of sort, courtesy of the magazine's photo editor, Nigel (Stanley Tucci). But not everyone is thrilled with her transformation — especially not Andy's boyfriend (Adrian Grenier, from pay cable's "Entourage"). And that's when temptation comes calling, in the form of Christian Thompson (Simon Baker), a writer who would like to further Andy's professional career.

A stronger filmmaker could have punched this material up a bit, though television director David Frankel and screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna ("Laws of Attraction") do resist the temptation to soften some things, especially Streep's character.

And that allows the actress, while sporting a modern Cruella De Vil look, to dominate the film with a performance that goes wonderfully from broad to subtle as required.

In the process, she nearly blows Hathaway off the screen, though supporting performers Tucci and Emily Blunt ("My Summer of Love") manage to steal a few scenes.

"The Devil Wears Prada" is rated PG-13 for occasional use of profanity, as well as some suggestive language and humor, and a brief scene of vehicular violence (done for laughs). Running time: 106 minutes.

E-mail: jeff@desnews.com