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David Frankel
Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci, Adrian Grenier, Tracie Thoms, Rich Sommer, Simon Baker
Writing Credits:
Aline Brosh McKenna, Lauren Weisberger (novel)

Hell on Heels.

A smart but sensible new graduate lands a job as an assistant to Miranda Priestly, the demanding editor-in-chief of a high fashion magazine.

Box Office:
$35 million.
Opening Weekend
$27.537 million on 2847 screens.
Domestic Gross
$124.541 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $16.99
Release Date: 12/12/2006

• Audio Commentary with Director David Frankel, Producer Wendy Finerman, Costume Designer Patricia Field, Screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna, Editor Mark Livolsi, and Director of Photography Florian Ballhaus
• Trivia Track
• 15 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Gag Reel
• Trailers


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Devil Wears Prada [Blu-Ray] (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 24, 2015)

For an interesting contrast in box office fortunes, we go back to the last few days of June 2006. Both Superman Returns and The Devil Wears Prada opened almost simultaneously, and on paper, Superman was the financial winner. It ultimately snagged $200 million in the US, while Prada lagged well beyond with $124 million. Nonetheless, most view Prada as a big hit and see Superman as a disappointment.

How come? Because of expectations, of course. Due to about a decade of start and stop production – including a number of come and gone actors and directors attached to earlier attempts at the project - Superman ran up an enormous budget that approached $300 million. Warner Bros. also touted Superman as one of the summer’s big attractions, so $200 million seemed lackluster for a project of its ambitions.

On the other hand, Prada came with little advance hype. Made for a mere $35 million and deposited into cinemas at a time of year more usually populated by big-budget blockbusters, Prada found that same magical territory as another piece of summer “counterprogramming” that made tons of bucks, 2002’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Prada didn’t reach the same heights as the $230 million grossing Greek, but it nonetheless emerged as the summer’s biggest surprise success.

Prada introduces us to Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), a young aspiring journalist. She gets a coveted position at Runway magazine, a key player in the fashion scene. This comes with a price, however: total subservience to the every whim of tyrannical editor-in-chief Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep).

Their interactions account for the main story arc of Prada. We see how Andy suffers under Miranda and how she also impresses her boss. We watch her evolution from frumpy college girl into fashionable babe-about-town, and we also examine how all of this impacts her relationships outside of work. The key conflict comes between Andy and live-in boyfriend Nate (Adrian Grenier), an issue exacerbated because he now feels marginalized as part of her life.

Although I don’t gravitate toward “chick flicks” – a genre in which Prada clearly belongs – the preview for this one intrigued me. The Prada trailer took an unusual path, as it didn’t include the expected montage of clips.

Instead, the promo featured a slightly-shortened version of the scene in which Andy first meets Miranda. This gives us a simple but concise synopsis of what the movie will be. We find a clear encapsulation of the main personalities and get a sense of the film’s sense of humor.

That was enough to make me willing to slap down $9 to see Prada on the big screen. Too bad the rest of the flick doesn’t manage to live up to its trailer’s promises. Oh, the film occasionally manages to remind us of its potential, but too much of it degenerates into a girly fantasy of life in the world of big fashion.

Actually, that may not be fair, but I admit that’s the impression the movie leaves with me. When I think back on it, images of Andy in one snazzy outfit after another come to mind. In truth, those elements don’t fill much of the flick’s running time, but it feels like they dominate.

That’s because Prada often lacks much else to stand out to us. When the film succeeds, it does so for one reason and one reason alone: Streep. She received Oscar consideration for her stellar turn as Miranda, and she deserved it. Streep almost saves the flick, as she offers such a delightfully cold and bitchy turn that she makes us enjoy the film despite its fairy tale princess undertones.

Streep’s delightfully cool and in control, a factor that makes one particular scene falter. We see Miranda show an emotional side and that choice fizzles. Who wants to see her weepy and vulnerable? Not me. Otherwise Streep is absolutely perfect as the self-absorbed but absolutely self-confident fashion maven.

And there ends the discussion of what I like about Prada. Not that the rest of the film stinks, but Streep sets the bar so high that the remainder becomes mediocre at best. Truly, we miss Miranda when we don’t see her, especially since Andy is such a dull character.

I like Hathaway and enjoy her work, but she gets stuck with a dud here. She can’t manage to create much to interest us with Andy, so we’re almost immediately bored when the film chooses to focus on her. Since that’s the vast majority of the time, long stretches of dullness permeate the flick.

Much of the story comes across as contrived, particularly in the methods used to create stress in Andy’s personal life. I genuinely hated Nate and her other friends, as they consistently seem judgmental and unpleasant. Yeah, I understand that Andy neglects them and they become frustrated, but the film paints them as borderline nasty when they’re with Andy. Why can’t they simply accept that Andy will have a terrible year with Miranda but support her because it’s so important to her?

Because then we wouldn’t have an underlying tension in the story, that’s why. We’d still have an interesting movie, but the filmmakers would have needed some other overriding plot. Andy’s life and the effect of Miranda’s pressures create the main emphasis, so without the tension between Andy and her friends, we’d require some other thread.

And that’d be fine with me. Maybe a version of Prada that lost the obnoxious friends would use more of Miranda and actually entertain on a consistent basis. As it stands, Prada only sporadically works. It never becomes quite catty and bitchy enough to succeed, as it teases us with those moments but leaves us wanting more.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

The Devil Wears Prada appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Released early in the existence of Blu-ray, the image looked okay but that was about it.

Most of the concerns related to sharpness. Throughout the film, it displayed general softness and less definition than I’d expect from Blu-ray. The picture wasn’t truly unfocused, but it didn’t seem as distinctive as I’d anticipate. I saw no jagged edges or shimmering, and I noticed no edge haloes. Source flaws never appeared during this clean transfer.

Colors could be a little pale but they usually seemed fine. Most of the movie exhibited fairly solid tones, though the slightly flat ones created some distractions. Some of this appeared to be connected to visual design, as the tones brightened when Andy became more fashionable. Blacks seemed decent, while shadows were acceptable. Low-light shots could be a bit muddy, but they were adequate across the board. From start to finish, this became a mediocre presentation.

Given the subject matter, I anticipated little from the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of The Devil Wears Prada, and the mix matched my expectations. The soundscape usually remained modest and focused on gentle environmental information. Not much activity emerged from this subdued piece, as it stayed with light ambience much of the time. A few scenes – New York streets, a storm in Florida – added some kick at least. The surrounds lacked much involvement and never stood out as anything noticeable beyond what I just mentioned.

Audio quality was positive. Speech seemed natural and crisp, with no edginess. Effects were clean and accurate, while music sounded smooth and concise. Low-end response was perfectly adequate. This was a more than acceptable mix for a low-key movie.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD from 2006? Audio had a little more kick, though not much, as the restricted soundfield left little room for growth. As for the image, the Blu-ray seemed a bit clearer and better defined, but not to a tremendous degree, as this was too inconsistent a transfer to be a major upgrade.

Most of the DVD’s extras repeat here, and we open with an audio commentary from director David Frankel, producer Wendy Finerman, costume designer Patricia Field, screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna, editor Mark Livolsi, and director of photography Florian Ballhaus. All of them sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They cover sets and locations, cast, characters and performances, story issues, musical choices, script and the adaptation of the novel, editing and cut scenes, a few visual choices, and clothes.

Lots and lots about clothes, as a matter of fact, which makes sense given the movie’s focus. We get a full accounting of all the different outfits worn in the flick, but the commentary doesn’t wind up as little more than a dull regurgitation of designers. Those moments are informative since they include insights into why the various styles were chosen, and we get many other good glimpses of the production. I especially like the notes about how Streep remained somewhat “in character” during the shoot, as she’d keep herself aloof from the others. The commentary covers the appropriate subjects well and provides a nice overview.

Not found on the DVD, the Blu-ray includes a Trivia Track. This covers aspects of the shoot, notes about cast and crew, fashion notes, background for film elements, and some other areas. The text commentary provides a nice mix of details and adds to the experience.

15 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 21 minutes and 35 seconds. One of the more interesting shows Andy’s interview with human resources that led her to Runway, and we also get a funny formal introduction between Andy and Nigel. There’s also more of Andy as she acclimates to the job and deals with various pressures there. A fair number of these offer minor extensions to existing scenes. Some come across as bland filler, but there’s actually quite a lot of good material on display here.

We can watch these with or without commentary from Frankel and Livosi. They offer some notes about the scenes and let us know why they didn’t end up in the final cut. Interestingly, Frankel relates that he never saw many of these, as Livosi dropped them before they ever made it to the director’s desk. The guys provide very useful information.

A Gag Reel runs five minutes and six seconds. It includes a lot of the usual mistakes and giggles bot not anything particularly memorable other than some funny ad-libs from Tucci and Streep.

Under Trailers, we find ads for Behind Enemy Lines, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Kiss of the Dragon, Fantastic Four, Speed, Kingdom of Heaven and Transporter. No promo for Prada appears here.

That was a change from the DVD, which included a trailer for Prade. The Blu-ray also loses five featurettes, though it adds the trivia track.

The Devil Wears Prada emerged as a left field hit, and the movie occasionally becomes sassy and provocative enough to warrant its success. Unfortunately, too much of the flick concentrates on its dull protagonist and takes us away from the character we really want to follow: Meryl Streep’s cool, calculating Miranda. When the film leaves her, it sags. The Blu-ray presents mediocre picture and audio along with a smattering of useful bonus materials. Nothing about the Blu-ray does much to impress

To rate this film visit the Special Edition review of THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA

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