Nancy Drew

Nancy Drew

Teen detective Nancy Drew (Emma Roberts, niece of Julia) accompanies her father on a business trip to Los Angeles where she comes across clues to a murder mystery involving a famous Hollywood actress, Dehlia Draycott.

The other kids at Hollywood High can't figure her out. Everything about her is different – from her super-smarts and retro manners, to her penny loafers and perfect picnic lunches.

But Nancy's got more important things to think about. Namely, a brand new mystery…

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Flicks Review

I’ve never read a Nancy Drew book. I dabbled with The Hardy Boys in my single-digit years but there was never an urge to investigate the female equivalent, despite its prevalence on library bookshelves. Apparently she’s a worldwide literary sensation and has been going strong for more than seventy-five years.

This film version (she’s already had a TV series) brings Nancy into the 21st century. But instead of creating a heroine that fits snugly into the modern world, the filmmakers have retained her old-fashioned manners and unusual dress sense (which to my eyes looks a darn sight better than that of her bling-encrusted peers at Hollywood High School).

The story features 16-year-old Nancy moving with her father (a strangely sleazy-looking Tate Donovan) from small-town USA to Hollywood. They move into an old mansion that once belonged to a famous actress, Dehlia Draycott, who was murdered in mysterious circumstances. Despite promising her father that she will ‘act normal’ like other 16-years-olds, Nancy can’t help sleuthing around to try and solve her latest mystery.

Nancy, of course, has always been revered as a role-model for young ladies. As director Andrew Fleming notes, “Nancy Drew is the classic American girl, a combination of high spirits and hometown values.” Producer Jerry Weintraub adds, “The essence of Nancy Drew is that she is always true to herself, no matter the circumstances.”

And she is indeed. Emma Roberts, who plays the titular heroine, is the best thing about the film. The likeable young actress adds spark and energy to what would otherwise be a rather run-of-the-mill affair. It must be those old fashioned values, which separate her from those vacant LA teenagers that surround her.

Speaking of old fashioned, a classic-style musical score accompanies the action. High-tension strings and stabbing brass all help to create that old-time tone and a Noir-ish suspense. The art direction is also good, adding flair to locations such as an old mansion in the Hollywood Hills and a Chinese box shop, not to mention the design of Nancy herself (if you can call it that) which looks quite snazzy.

But all these worthwhile elements sometimes feel a bit wasted on a story that doesn’t really add up to very much. It’s not really much of a mystery at all (although perhaps it would be more intriguing for a younger audience). A super-sappy ending dampens the mood a bit, so, despite the likeability of Nancy, the film doesn’t leave you with the greatest impression.

Not many audience members (mainly the target group actually – I felt a bit embarrassed sitting there alone) laughed aloud during the ‘funny’ bits, so that can’t be a good sign either. I don’t really know how much appeal the film will have in New Zealand. The updating of a decades-old girl detective into modern-day LA is weird enough already, without viewing it from a kiwi perspective.

Reviewed by Andrew Hedley

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 1 ratings, 1 reviews
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Im not much of a reader, so i never read the book, this was my 1st taste of Nancy Drew. EMMA ROBERTS plays NANCY DREW, she really 'brought the character to life", and she acts nothing like how she is in the TV show - UNFABULOUS. If you're 15, like me, i recomend you wait and rent the DVD, it's not worth $9, but if you're AGE 7-10, A GIRL I THINK YOU'LL LOVE THIS MOVIE. Parents this is a good family film you're daughter would love to watch, there are no 'dogdy' scences, but its... More based on a murder mystery. THIS MOVIE WOULD APPEAL TO NANCY DREW FANS YOUNG AND OLD!!!!!Hide

The Press Reviews

50% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • Hopefully, the girls who see Nancy Drew this summer will take their cues from the smart, engaged, intellectually curious character Roberts so charmingly portrays... Full Review

  • A well-written and in many ways pleasing update of a character who has endured in print for 78 years... Full Review

  • The mystery of Nancy Drew' is how a movie can get so many things right -- particularly the inspired casting of Emma Roberts as the spunky teenage sleuth -- yet ultimately disappoint... Full Review

  • An over-abundance of Apple product placement and the appearance of Josh Flitter (Big Momma's House 2) as a really annoying wisecracking sidekick also threaten to derail any enjoyment of the film. Thankfully, it's Roberts to the rescue. Possessing far more charisma (and a good deal less horsiness) than her more famous aunt Julia, Roberts really shines... Full Review

  • Purportedly an attempt to modernize the young detective's adventures for a new generation of tweens, the pic instead serves up stale mystery-movie cliches and overcooked red herrings in a thoroughly wooden adaptation... Full Review