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View from the Couch

The Devil Wears Prada, Little Miss Sunshine

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THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (2006). Meryl Streep deserves all the accolades she received for her poison-dipped performance in this satisfying screen version of Lauren Weisberger's best-selling novel. As Miranda Priestley, the ice-cold and rock-hard editor of the fashion magazine Runway, Streep delivers a terrific comic performance, as rich as the ones she gave in Postcards from the Edge and the otherwise unwatchable She-Devil. But let's not undervalue the contribution of Anne Hathaway, who's just fine as Andy Sachs, a college grad whose cluelessness about the fashion industry proves to be a drawback in her stint as Miranda's worked-to-the-bone assistant. (Stanley Tucci and Emily Blunt, as Andy's cynical coworkers, likewise deserve kudos, with Blunt worthy of this year's Best Supporting Actress Oscar.) The film's peeks into the fashion world are amusing, and the script makes some salient points about the lengths to which a person will allow themselves to be humiliated simply to hold onto a job. Once the focus turns to Andy's crisis of conscience, the picture loses some of its bite. But not Meryl, whose ferocious work continues to take a sizable chunk out of the couture culture. DVD extras include audio commentary by director David Frankel and crew, 15 deleted scenes, five making-of featurettes and a gag reel.

Movie: ***

Extras: ***

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (2006). In the rocker "We're a Happy Family," The Ramones present a dysfunctional family in which "Daddy's telling lies, Baby's eating flies, Mommy's on pills, Baby's got the chills." The clan at the center of this sleeper hit isn't much better off. But one thing brings the members together: the chance to support sweet, 7-year-old Olive (Abigail Breslin), who's been selected to compete in the "Little Miss Sunshine" beauty pageant in California. Essentially, this is yet another road picture about bickering family members, and if that sounds a bit too prefab (or at least a bit too RV), screenwriter Michael Arndt, his dialogue backed by an excellent ensemble cast (including Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette and Steve Carell), manages to adroitly mix up the expected comic shtick with moments of great clarity and insight. The movie climaxes as it surely must -- at the competition -- and Arndt and the husband-and-wife directing team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris sharpen their claws for this portion, allowing the characters to engage in a final act of flagrant punk defiance. Joey Ramone would have been proud. DVD extras include audio commentaries by Dayton, Faris and Arndt, four alternate endings and a music video.

Movie: ***1/2

Extras: **

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