If I could rate the Netflix movie rating system, I'd give it two stars. The problem? There's no rating for "eh." If one star means you wish you could destroy every print ever made, two stars merely says you didn't like it, and then three stars says you liked a movie. Four: Really liked it, and five means you want to name your kids and pets after the characters. Thus, if you're lukewarm, you can't put two stars since you didn't not like it, but you feel awkward putting three stars 'cause you're not exactly recommending it, though you found a few redeeming qualities.
Why do I bring this up? Because of our recent Netflix picks, The Devil Wears Prada and The Illusionist. Val didn't see the latter, while we both curled up on the couch to see the former.
Prada wasn't as comedic as hoped, nor Illusionist as thrilling, and both suffered from being slow and it was difficult to figure out where the plot was supposed to be headed.
In Prada, Streep's acclaimed performance is one-note and goes nowhere. What started out promising with a spunky Meryl attituding all over Anne Hathaway ended up the same ol' same ol' for the next 90 minutes.
In Illusionist, the sex appeal flirted the audience in two ways to start, but once Jessica Biel drops off the screen the magic disappears. The cool magic tricks in the first half give way to a sad Ed Norton barely blinking as Paul Giamatti investigates what happened to Biel. And by the way, can we limit the number of movies using the trick of starting near the end? Tell us the story straightforward and we'll catch up, I promise.
That's not to say that I didn't find favor with bits of both movies. Anne Hathaway’s so darn likeable, and the way Prada immerses us in the fashion industry provides a viewpoint seen beyond the catwalk, trying to make the mysteriously addictive business interesting. Apparently two belts which look identical except for the buckle makes a difference. Who knew?
Likewise, The Illusionist has some solid acting, if far too serious and melodramatic at times with strangely affected accents that I’m guessing were supposed to be Eastern Europeanish. I’m much more interested in renting The Prestige later this winter. Less romantic, more thrilling, is what I’m hoping.
The Devil Wears Prada - 3 stars (but not “like” liked)
The Illusionist - 2 stars (but not disliked)