I recently watched this movie. I’ve only ever heard about and seen clips of it over the years. As entertaining and engaging as the film was, I have to say I was a little bit let down. I wish I wasn’t. I did try to keep an open mind. And at the end of the day, I’m a sucker for fashion movies. I love glamor and clothes and watching people try on clothes and make fun of “bad” fashion. So, when I saw it was on Amazon Prime there was no way I wasn’t going to check it out.
The movie has the typical new job, big city vibes with lots of running, mistakes and mean boss/co-workers coupled with clumsy yet talented main character. It reminded me of Confessions of a Shopaholic which is another one I love to watch thanks to the fashion aspect. Behind all of the clothes on screen and extremely talented actors, there is a sense of real-life parallels that distract me from the fictional yet realistic tone. I’m usually one to let fiction be fiction, and if a plot is crazy and unrealistic, sometimes I have to give the writers props for imagination and utilizing the fact that this didn’t take place in the real world. However, for a film that takes place in New York City and is obviously supposed to be real life, you can’t ignore the tropes and leaps from relatable to nonsense.
My main criticism, or rather, question is, did Andrea (Andy) ever get that bad? My short answer is nope.
The character aspect is a very tried and true “character changes into someone they are not and learns a lesson.” If you’ve grown up watching Disney Channel movies, chances are you have stumbled upon this numerous times. I don’t think it’s a bad lesson, but it has become one of many “package deals” when it comes to stories. A writer of a movie can buy a very attractive and easy-to-use plot at a good discount involving the new job, a transformation, and then quitting job at end of movie. I can also go into why so many movies paint success as the road to instant greed and abandonment of friends, but I think I will save that for another article. I also don’t think it was the point of this film, because Andy’s goal is to become a successful writer and that is not painted in a bad light.
Lots of conflicts in stories have to escalate. In Andy’s case, she changes what she wears at her new job, and before she knows it she’s taking calls from her boss when she’s just out trying to live her life. Then she’s late to her boyfriend’s birthday party, and then she’s required to go to Paris for her job, and in Paris she realizes that her boss is just as cold and cutthroat as she is in New York so she quits. The argument they try to make, or her boss Miranda tries to make, is that Andy is no better than Miranda. Andy disagrees when her boss says she is just like her. Andy would be right. I think the point may be that Andy wants to get out of there before she becomes more like Miranda, but my favorite part of this whole thing is that Andy has already decided she’s only going to work there for one year. Everyone knew that, even the boyfriend who decided that her new professional outfits she wears to work are just not her anymore. Her friends, her dad, everyone knew that Andy was planning on working there for one year.
That is a big part of the plot that I think suffers. If she had no back up plan, or if she had been one of those girls who really, really wanted to work there and had once looked up to Miranda as a role model, the stakes would have been higher, more personal, the pain would have been greater. When Andy first starts, she’s ridiculed (I don’t totally blame them) for what she is wearing at her job because she isn’t interested in fashion. She truly doesn’t want to be there in the first place. I know the film is based on a novel, so I cannot say what the novel contains and I am only judging by what I see on screen. But if I were going to write a movie like this, I want the character to have interest, to have stakes, to have reasons. What I give it credit for is how Andy does change for the better regarding her self-confidence and professional appearance, most of which she learned from her boss. I like a film that acknowledges a less popular life lesson, which is sometimes you learn useful advice from people you wouldn’t want to call role models.
The film also suffers from characters who are just bodies, there to be there. They get away with things that normally one would justifiably call them out on. I don’t recall seeing Andy’s friends apologize to her for teasing her and grabbing her work-phone at dinner, after she had just gifted them very coveted items she can get from her job. Her friend didn’t care for an explanation when she saw Andy talking at her gallery show (which Andy made time to attend) and a guy happened to kiss her on the cheek, she assumes the absolute worst without enough occurrences leading up to why this conclusion makes sense.
And her boyfriend is the worst.
After watching TV shows where characters get to be developed over periods of time, sometimes watching one rushed movie makes it harder to get onboard with certain decisions and motives, so I can’t always fault a film for feeling rushed. This is an entertaining film with a touch of depth, because it does attempt to humanize the main boss, it has a few new ideas, and some real life scenarios. But it still bugged me enough to post this rant about it, and I wonder if I’m in a camp on my own, or if others have similar criticisms.