Much like the HBO sitcoms for which its director, David Frankel, is best known (Entourage and Sex and the City), The Devil Wears Prada zips along at a bright, busy clip, is competently crafted, mildly amusing and ultimately disposable. It's surprisingly easy to overlook the lack of substance and originality, however, when you've got Meryl Streep, in one of her most fully realized and thoroughly entertaining performances, holding court at the center of your movie.
Streep isn't even on screen all that often in The Devil Wears Prada, but she's what we remember, and most of the movie's best bits revolve around her. Technically speaking, our main character is a schlumpy, aspiring journalist named Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) who lucks into a job as assistant to the notorious Miranda Priestly (Streep), the powerful and ultra-sophisticated editor of a fictitious, Vogue-like fashion magazine called Runway. Tastemaker, queen bitch and snob extraordinaire, Streep's Priestly is an icy dragon lady who speaks softly and carries a big thermonuclear device, and every moment she's on screen is something to see.
Just about everything else in The Devil Wears Prada, however, is negligible. Doe-eyed Andy transforms from fashion victim to couture-conscious swan and, as her career takes off, her personal life predictably disintegrates. Several bland romantic interests hover at the edges of the story, various minor characters deliver periodic speeches moralizing about Andy's impending loss of integrity, and Stanley Tucci pops up as the obligatory gay co-worker with whom our heroine bonds. But then Streep slinks back into the picture, a soft-spoken force of nature, and suddenly we're paying attention again. Stars Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci, Emily Blunt and Adrian Grenier.
The Devil Wears Prada (PG-13) opens June 30 at local theaters. 2.5 stars