Beauty and the Briefcase

| January 28, 2011

ABC Family may need to re-name their network soon. The debut of shows like “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”, and “Ten Things I Hate About You” demonstrate that the network is turning its focus to what must be its most sizable demographic: teenage girls. Presumably they’re having some success.
Their newest entry in this programming strategy is “Beauty and the Briefcase”, starring Hilary Duff, who would certainly be a recognizable face for this audience, having starred on “Lizzie McGuire” in the early 2000s. Ms. Duff, though she is twenty four years old, looks as youthful and fresh as ever. It’s strange to see this Disney star in a movie about finding love, which involves a great deal of promiscuity, as it turns out.
Duff is Lane Daniels, an ambitious writer whose dream is to write for Cosmopolitan magazine. At first glance, this movie seems to be yet another re-working of “The Devil Wears Prada”. However, it turns out the movie is based on the book “Diary of a Working Girl”, and the plot takes a different path than “Prada” (slightly). She’s still sacrificing her dignity to achieve her goal, but Lane has all the fashion sense in the world.
Lane manages to score a pitch meeting with Cosmo thanks to her friend and roommate, a successful photographer named Joanne (the easy to watch and very lovely Amanda Walsh). She meets her editor (a very subtle, sweet Jaime Pressly), and luck strikes- she is to get a job at an important business and date Men in Suits- and ONLY men in suits.
She gets a job at a finance company in a hackneyed unfunny sequence involving lying on her resume and putting the company’s electricity on the fritz, and voila! She immediately begins going on date after date with man in suit after man in suit. Then of course, she meets Mr. Right, a successful European entrepreneur, after work one night in a bar, and he most definitely does not wear a suit.
The rest is predictable and bland: she fails colossally at the finance job she is horrendously underqualified for, her undercover writer status is found out by her co-workers, and she discovers “Mr. Right” is actually a waiter in a local restaurant. The script unfortunately doesn’t contain a single joke and the only thing that can really be said for the movie is that it is mercifully short.
Duff isn’t a bad actress, but she isn’t a particularly masterful or interesting one either. She looks nice in clothes, she has a pretty face, but that’s about where it ends. Jennifer Coolidge is wasted in a cameo scene that could have been funny, but fell just short of the finish line. Otherwise there’s a slew of semi-attractive men but none to really stop your heart, and the ending is facepalm embarrassing. Would it be entertaining for teenage girls? Maybe. It’s about finding love, a highly popular subject for that age group. There’s a subplot about recycling that’s somewhat encouraging. But in the end, it’s really an unfortunately forgettable contribution to the television canon.

About the Author:

Heather Trow is a nursing assistant and part-time writer. When she is not writing, she is listening to the popular podcast "NEVER NOT FUNNY". Actually, at any given time, most likely, she is listening to the podcast. It's pretty much all she does besides work. It is her favorite thing.
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