Nancy Drew is a surprise delight that any 7-year-old girl will enjoy. With characters larger than life, zany hijinks, and severe discomfort, Nancy Drew is a movie even parents can get through without wanting their money back.
When Nancy Drew’s father, Carson Drew (Tate Donovan), agrees to take a temporary job in California, they pack up and move to Los Angeles. Nancy (Emma Roberts) promises her father that she won’t continue sleuthing, even though the house she picked out for them to rent has a super star mystery. The previous owner, a famous actress, was found floating in her pool and the mystery was never solved. Unable to resist the draw of the mystery, Nancy sets out to find the truth about what happened to her.
Emma Roberts gets her 50’s groove on in this movie. Roberts must be regal, a large task for a teenager. She has remarkable poise through the entire movie. An unnatural poise, really. Her 50’s style set on a modern backdrop is comical. My only complaint about Emma Roberts is her thinky face. She pushes her lips together and rolls them around. It is annoying, but it is minor.
All of the characters, including Nancy Drew, are larger than life. The “sleuthing kit” includes pastries from her housekeeper. She coyly uses them to get information out of people and to negotiate a standoff situation. She is intelligent and cunning without being annoyingly saccharine or schemey. Her car is an adorable roadster. The real estate agent, Barbara Barbara (Caroline Aaron) is what we all fear when we hear someone say they are a real estate agent. The groundskeeper is creepy. The dad is always just a little bit behind. There is a youngster, Corky (Josh Flitter), who adores her and follows her around. The police in her home town are nice, good-natured men who just can’t seem to figure out what she can. Her love interest Ned Nickerson (Max Thieriot) couldn’t be more supportive and wholesome looking. Even the annoying teen girls who mock and taunt Nancy, Inga (Daniella Monet) and Trish (Kelly Vitz) are so skin curdling, their mothers probably would have committed suicide out of shame long before Nancy came to town.
Nancy Drew works for the pre-teen girl crowd because it is mature enough to keep their attention, but still employs juvenile gags. Ned and Nancy don’t touch each other very often. Their relationship, while obvious, is very sterile and young. The annoying kid who follows them around, Corky, acts like the 7-year-old’s narrator. He makes complaints of plot and comments the way a child would. Even though he is annoying, he serves an important purpose. He gives the young people who watch the movie a character they can relate to, someone who says out loud what they are thinking, and while he is a little tiresome, is a well written character, for his purpose.
Finally, a female detective who doesn’t use sex as a tool. I feel a little bit of relief that there is a character out there that isn’t just supporting her man in his endeavors. Instead she uses her own mind to solve what even grown-ups can’t. I don’t believe that cinema defines how a girl thinks of herself, but it is never bad to show a woman, even a young one, who doesn’t rely on her father, boyfriend, mother, etc., to find her own strength.
Nancy Drew surprised me. It was a delightful, age appropriate flick.