Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Devil Wears Prada

Sometimes I like to read a book before I see the movie.  Sometimes I see a movie and then decide to read the book.  98% of the time in both of these cases, the book is better than the movie.

There is, however, that rare moment when the movie is - gasp! - better than the book.

I addressed this issue in another review I did, Julie/Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, which is definitely better as a movie than a book.  In this case, however, the movie is only slightly better.  The contrast in today's review is not nearly as stark.  However, I must confess that I enjoyed the movie more.

The Devil Wears Prada is a fictional story about a small town girl that comes to the Big City (i.e. New York) with big dreams, big plans, and no apartment.  She somehow lands the job that "a million girls would die for," assistant to Miranda Priestly, editor of Runway magazine, THE fashion magazine of the fashion world.  The main character, Andrea Sachs, takes the job, despite knowing nothing about fashion because she wants to break into the world of magazines and writing.  Everyone tells her this is the opportunity of a lifetime, and if she can hang in there for a year, one phone call from Miranda will put her on the staff of virtually any magazine she wants in the world.  Unfortunately, Andrea rapidly finds out that ambition has its costs, and in her case her job begins to cost her her sanity, her time, her relationships, and her integrity.  In the end, Andrea has to decide what she really wants in her life and weigh whether or not a year working for one of the worst bosses in the world is worth it all. 

This was a case where I saw the movie first.  The movie is delightful.  Meryl Streep is amazing - because, after all, when is she not? - and Anne Hathaway is perfect as the naïve-small-town-girl turned evil-empress-in-training.  Emily Blunt is also wonderful as Andrea's partner at Runway.  The movie made me want to go find the book and read it right away.

And the book was...okay. 

The story is amusing, and it's pretty much what is seen in the movie, only more so.  The job is terrible, Miranda is awful, and Andrea is finds herself more and more in over her head.  Everything is worse than in the movie - it was softened a tad for the screen.  The characters are rougher around the edges - meaner, more cussing, more drama.  It's a little edgier than I was expecting, and while that was ok, it wasn't as much fun as I was hoping for.

I had a difficult time identifying with the character of Andrea and feeling the proper amount of pity for her.  The truth is, Andrea did not come off as a very nice person, and some of the stuff she pulled on Miranda just to make herself feel better - like purchasing random Starbucks coffees on the company's tab - just made her seem petty and vindictive.  What's more, I didn't see the moral conundrum that the author was trying to set up.  Andrea's roommate in the  book slips down a dark and destructive path, and somehow that was supposed to be Andrea's fault for not paying more attention.  Yeah, she was ignoring her friends and relationships - but the whole thing was temporary, and it wasn't like she was enjoying herself.

In addition, I kinda found myself wanting to punch Andrea's boyfriend in the face.  His do-gooder, holier-than-thou character was hard to swallow, and the fact that he couldn't put up with Andrea's dreams for the year she was trying to be in Miranda's employ did not endear him to me.  He knew she just had to hang in there for a year.  This wasn't permanent.  Why couldn't he just shut up and deal with it? Maybe it's because I have an AWESOME husband who supported me through the craziness of grad school because he knew it was my dream, but I finally ran out of patience with Alex.  (The boyfriend was MUCH more likeable in the movie.)

All of it seemed pretty empty, and maybe because the world of ambition and climbing higher and having "a career" isn't all that important to me.  I'm not a claw my way to the top person.  What's more, my life fulfillment is not found in my job.  Or my writing.  Or my children or my family, for that matter.  The one and only thing that makes my life worth getting up and greeting every morning is knowing that I am cherished as a daughter of God and follower of Christ - so the rest is just details, and details that would make me miserable don't really seem worth it in the face of what I just said.  I don't think Andrea and I would have a lot to talk about.

Lauren Weisberger writes in a very engaging way, and this was a book kept me going. (She does use some profanity.  It is appropriate for the age and lifestyle of her characters, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.) It was amusing enough that I want to read the sequel, Revenge Wears Prada.  That, actually, is what prompted me to write this review - I just found out there was a sequel and I want to read it soon.  In the meantime I have checked out another one of Weisberger's books, Everyone Worth Knowing.  So I am not saying DON'T read the book.  Weisberger is a fun author who writes fun, fairly entertaining stories that don't have a ton of substance but are a nice fun reading filler.  That's pretty much what The Devil Wears Prada is. 

But I still enjoyed the movie more. 

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars
What I'm reading now: The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George  
Top Five TBR:
1. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
2. Forgotten God by Francis Chan.
3. Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger
4. The Story of Britain by Rebecca Fraser
5. Crazy Love
 by Francis Chan  

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