Wait, The Devil Wears Prada isn’t a horror flick? OK, let’s try that again… It’s interesting to see how much of the initial reaction to the film echoes the thoughts of Fashion Wire Daily’s Lauren David Peden, who dismisses the source material (Lauren Weisberger’s novel) as “as badly written as they come.” (Funnily enough, FWD seems to have some sort of rule against saying the word “hell,” leaving Peden to work her way through “h-e-double hockey sticks” and “you-know-where”.) Charting the film’s development for Hollywood Reporter, Anne Thompson describes how “a succession of writers took a whack at wrestling this anecdotal account of life in the New York fashion fast lane into a shootable, commercial screenplay.” (Including “two funny gay writers” to deliver the “juicy bon mots,” presumably because they’re so good at that.) My favorite un-ironic Hollywood line from that piece belongs to one of the final scripters, Aline Brosh McKenna: “You don’t often tinge a coming-of-age story with moral choices.” Oh, gosh no, hardly ever.
Meanwhile, A.O. Scott observes in his NYT review that the story’s meaning has done a 180-degree turn, as Meryl Streep turns a character who was once “the incarnation of evil” into “a vision of aristocratic, purposeful and surprisingly human grace.” He also, quite politely, never mentions Anna Wintour’s name, which is more than Roger Ebert did—although Ebert cushions the blow by describing the character as “a cross between Anna Wintour, Graydon Carter and a dominatrix.”