Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Devil Wears Prada (live action movie)

Andy Sachs wants to be a journalist, but, since no one will hire her fresh out of college, she's willing to settle for whatever she can get just to pay the bills. She ends up becoming an assistant to Miranda Priestly, an impossibly demanding New York fashion magazine editor. Andy has no sense of fashion and really couldn't care less about the topic. Unfortunately, Miranda and everyone around her practically lives and breathes fashion. If Andy is going to survive her job, she'll have to develop a little fashion sense and learn to make miracles happen whenever Miranda snaps her fingers. Andy starts to get the hang of things in her new job, but, in the process of doing so, she begins to forget her original goal (to become a real journalist, and not an assistant for a fashion magazine) and starts alienating her friends and boyfriend.

I haven't read the book, but I have the distinct feeling (from talking with my mother, who has read the book and avoided the movie because of it) that Miranda was a lot worse to Andy in the book than she was in the movie. In the movie, Miranda is a frightening person who, by the end, is also revealed to be hollow and a bit pathetic. She is terrible to Andy, but there are only a few examples of that terribleness. My favorite is Andy's worst day, when Miranda makes her get the manuscript for the latest Harry Potter book, the one that (at the time this movie was made) hadn't even been published yet. However bad Miranda was to Andy in the movie, I'd have to say that the worst stuff that happens to Andy is actually the stuff she does to herself, when she completely makes herself over so that Miranda will like her.

I never really understood why Andy changed herself so completely. For some reason, she suddenly wanted and needed Miranda to like her. Miranda hadn't done anything to deserve that kind of devotion. It would have been more believable if the movie had focused on Andy's fear that she wouldn't be able to find another journalism job after this if she just up and left. There is a little of that in this movie, but mostly Andy just seems to want Miranda to like her. Personally, I'd be much more able to understand the "but I won't be able to find another job" reason - I had, and still have, some of the same fears now that I've finally managed to find a job myself and, unlike Andy, I wasn't even limiting myself to finding jobs in a single city. If my first "real" job were as bad as Andy's, would I stick with it out of fear that I wouldn't be able to find anything else? It feels pathetic to say this, but the answer is probably "yes." Heck, my current job is actually pretty good, but I'm still settling for a less ideal situation than I had thought I would when I first got out of school.

Like Andy, I'm not a big fashion fan myself, but it was still fun seeing all the outfits people were wearing in this movie. I wonder, are there people in New York, real people, who actually wear this sort of stuff? I find it a bit mind-boggling, but, hey, Anne Hathaway looked fabulous is just about all of it.

Overall, I thought this movie was ok, but it wasn't nearly as funny as I had expected it to be. I think the main reason I enjoyed it at all was because of my own perspective: like Andy, I recently just about sweated blood in order to get my first real job. I can only be thankful that my experiences since taking this job have not been nearly as bad as hers. Anyway, not only was the movie not as funny as I had expected it to be, I saw the ending coming well before Andy did. It was obvious to me that Andy was becoming more and more like one of Miranda's minions (and Miranda herself), but it takes Miranda spelling things out before Andy actually realizes what's going on. Predictability in a story doesn't always bother me, but there was so little to truly enjoy in this movie that I couldn't easily ignore that aspect of it.

Read-alikes:
  • Beyond the Blonde (book) by Kathleen Flynn-Hui - Georgia Watkins, freshly graduated from the Wilfred Academy of Beauty in Weekeepeemie, NH, is a small-town girl with big ambitions. In a classy salon in New York, she works her way up, starting off by sweeping up hair and eventually becoming a colorist. Unfortunately, things aren't all wonderful, and she has to deal with bullies, romance, heartbreak, and betrayal. Those who'd like another story showing the less glamorous side of a glamorous workplace might enjoy this book, written by a celebrity colorist.
  • The Second Assistant: A Tale From the Bottom of the Hollywood Ladder (book) by Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare - Elizabeth Miller is a young former campaign worker who suddenly finds herself between jobs. Unable to find any more socially responsible work, she ends up settling for the job of second assistant to an executive at a Hollywood agency. Of course, her experience is utter hell, but she eventually makes friends, builds her wardrobe, and learns to care for her job and her boss. Those who'd like another story in the "tormented underling in the world of glamour and glitz" genre might enjoy this book.
  • The Nanny Diaries (book) by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus - Two former Manhattan nannies tell the story of Nan, a young woman looking for a job to fit around her child-development classes at NYU. Mrs. X seems reasonable enough when she hires Nan to look after her 4-year-old son Grayer, but she soon reveals herself to be a bundle of neuroses wrapped up in Prada who sees her son as little more than a status symbol. Nan's devotion to Grayer prompts her to stick with this job against the advice of friends and family, but how long can she last? Those who'd like another comedy that reveals the ugly side of the world of the well-to-do might enjoy this book, which, much like The Devil Wears Prada, has been made into a movie.
  • Fear and Trembling (book) by Amelie Nothomb - Amelie is a young Belgian woman who was born in Japan. It has been her dream to work for a company in Japan, and one day that dream comes true. She begins at the bottom of the corporate ladder, writing letters for her boss and trying to make perfect copies for him on the copier, and amazingly manages to descend even lower. I'm not sure how true any of this book is - maybe it's all fiction, or maybe it's exaggerated truth. Whatever the case may be, it's funny and horrible at the same time. Those who'd like another funny story about a woman who stubbornly sticks with a miserable job might enjoy this (very short) book. Just as Andy doesn't maneuver very well in the world of fashion, so too does Amelie have trouble with the Japanese corporate culture.
  • Sushi for Beginners (book) by Marian Keyes - For Ashling, the job she lands at start-up Irish fashion magazine Colleen is a dream come true. For Lisa, a high-maintenance London editor who had been expecting a promotion to New York, it is a bitter disappointment. Lisa becomes determined to make Colleen a success, even if it kills her (and her staff). Lisa eventually starts to wonder if her move to Dublin and her single-minded focus on her career have been a mistake. Meanwhile, Ashling has to pick up the pieces and figure herself out after she is betrayed by her best friend and her boyfriend. The book starts out painfully slow and boring, but stick with it and the characters turn out to have some interesting depth and charm. Those who'd like another story focusing on the employees at a fashion magazine might enjoy this book.

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