Movie Review: Nancy Drew

By Amy Lamare, June 13, 2007

Nancy Drew (NDREW) has been popular with generations of young readers. The sassy and practical girl detective has been a role model for young girls since the 1930s. My generation grew up with Pamela Sue Martin as Nancy in the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mystery Hour in the late 70s. Now a whole new generation of girls are being introduced to the resourceful sleuth with Emma Roberts (EROBE) in the titular role. Yes, she hails from those Roberts’ – Daddy Eric and Aunt Julia (JROBE) are no doubt proud of their little Emma.

This remake suffers from an identity crisis. Emma plays Nancy straight – as if she is the lead character in a film aimed at children. But the rest of the production aims for Scooby Doo and Brady Bunch levels of camp that play better to an adult audience. Nancy seems much younger and more naïve than her teen counterparts, yet she is savvy enough to foil a burglar (played by Chris Kattan (CKATT)) soon after she moves to Los Angeles with her father.

Nancy’s father, played by Tate Donovan, is an attorney who relocates to Los Angeles and tasks Nancy with finding a home for them. Nancy of course gravitates towards a mansion in the Hollywood Hills with its own mystery attached to it. Never mind that Nancy gave old Daddy Dearest her promise to cut out all the super sleuthing when they left River Heights. The house they move into has a spooktacular history – an aging starlet was killed there and her murder has never been solved – of course. You half expect her to call Fred, Daphne, Velma and Shaggy for help on this one, so didactic is the manipulation of this part of the plot.

The wardrobe department oddly chose to dress Emma in Pamela Sue Martin’s old costumes. Or at least it seems that way, as Nancy’s retro look is at odds with the styles of the other teens around her. I happened to find this odd device comforting, having grown up with the 1970s Nancy Drew, but must wonder if it will make any sense to younger audiences.

The suspension of disbelief is critical to adults who want to enjoy this film. Sure, it’s improbable that our oddly dressed teenager has the detective skills to outwit the LAPD, LAFD and a myriad of adults including her father and teachers. But the fun in the whole mystique of Nancy Drew has always been her ability to stumble upon the answers to her mysteries and make it seem like part of her plan all along. Just go in and enjoy it for what it is – a fun summer flick featuring a young actress who gets more time on the silver screen than in the tabloids.

Nancy Drew opens in wide release on June 15, 2007.

This work is the property of Stock Exchange and Amy Lamare. It is not to be reused, reprinted or stolen under any conditions.

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