Nancy Drew opens with a shot of three large bookcases, filled with every Nancy Drew book written. Over the opening credits are a montage of pen and ink drawing reminiscent of the book drawings that show Nancy’s getaways, major findings, and troublesome situations. For a movie that I have been waiting over 20 years for, I was hooked then. The combination of old school and new school here is what makes Nancy Drew a winner. If you’re not familiar with the teenage detective who rivals the Hardy Boys in cases solved?this movie may not be up your alley, but see it anyway. With your daughter.
Nancy Drew’s values are from another age when kindness and honesty no matter what ruled. However, the character proves that these values never go out of style. Nancy, played by Emma Roberts, and her lawyer father Carson Drew, played by Tate Donovan, leave their small town River Heights for Los Angeles so that Carson can work on a case, but not before the audience is given a glimpse of Nancy’s old friends George, Bess, Hannah, Chief McGinnis, and Ned. I was happy that all but Ned stayed behind. Resurrecting one character from a 77-year old series is enough. In LA, the Drew’s find themselves renting the house of Dehlia Draycott (Laura Harring), a movie star who had died mysteriously twenty years earlier. The caretaker Leshing (Marshall Bell) watches over the family as they move in and lets it be known that he would rather have the house empty. Sounds prime for a good mystery. However, Nancy is set on beginning a life without sleuthing at the request of her father. He wants a normal daughter. So, Nancy begins a different case: the case of the girl who can’t fit in.
Scenes of Nancy at a high school in this century clearly highlight the differences between Nancy and her classmates, and the book’s original audience from modern day teenage girls. Nancy dresses like a supercharged girl scout from the 1950s who tires her principal with her petitions for CPR classes and the removal of lead paint from the old athletic shed. Her classmates wear too much make-up and text each other from two feet away, with their only concerns being themselves. Nancy’s style clashes with theirs, and once she is aware of this she does something admirable in the movie: she gives up. She spares the audience the awkward refusals of her classmates and moves on to the mystery. She admits she?s not a normal teenage kid. While not a great lesson for kids, I was excited that she didn’t try to become someone else to fit in; I wouldn’t want to be friends with those people either.
Emma Roberts does a wonderful job being Nancy. She is real in her attempts to fit in without overdoing it. She plays the character as a timid social person, who is only comfortable and happy with a puzzle to solve. Donovan plays Carson entirely as he?s sketched in the book: a busy lawyer who is proud of Nancy and out of the way enough for Nancy to get in and out of trouble. The actor disappears behind the character successfully. I wanted to see more of Max Thieriot’s Ned Nickerson, but just like in the book heart-wounded Ned is Nancy’s go-to-guy but little else. Josh Flitter’s character, Corky, however, could have been written out entirely to make room for more Ned. He seemed to have been brought in for comic relief, but instead drew the attention away from the story.
On to the adventure. Nancy unwinds the clues of Dehlia?s last months of life through old movie reels and photographs. With the help of Ned (Max Thieriot) and her useless LA sidekick Corky (Josh Flitter), she finds out that Dehlia had a daughter. Once this clue is unturned, the movie speeds up with death threats, car chases, and hostage situations. The evil character remain hidden too well sometimes, and the audience never gets the chance to figure out the puzzle by themselves. But that?s Nancy’s job.
This movie is just as a Nancy Drew book should be.
Leave A Comment