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Nancy Drew
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by Dawn Taylor

"The Case of the Diasappearing Parody"
3 stars

If you’re a woman of a certain age, you’ll recall reading the Nancy Drew mysteries. Created in 1930 by the same publishing house that produced serial novels about the Bobbsey Twins and the Hardy Boys, the Drew books were very, very popular for decades – mainly because, unless you were heavily into romance novels or books about student nurses, Nancy offered pretty much the only girl-centric contemporary fiction on the market.

Times have changed, and young women have a lot more role models after whom to fashion themselves. Considering how many of those role models are brain-damaged, coke-sniffing celebutards, it’s got to be mighty refreshing for parents to see the name Nancy Drew on the theater marquee. Unlike Paris and Lindsay and Britney, our Nancy spent decades showing her gumption by using her great big brain to solve mysteries, and she somehow managed to avoid either jail or rehab – and she would have never, ever have left the house without underpants.

Emma Roberts (Aquamarine) stars as the titular teen detective, whom we meet as she’s wrapping up an investigation in her home town of River Heights. Having established herself as this bucolic backwater’s premier crimefighter, she finds herself in danger a great deal of the time – so much so that her father Carson (Tate Donovan) asks her to curtail the sleuthing while they’re in Los Angeles for a few months.

But Nancy can’t help herself. She has spunk! And she lives for sleuthing! So, when shopping for an L.A. rental home for herself and dad, she makes sure to request a house that comes with a mystery. Apparently realtors in California are used to all sorts of wacky requests, because the Drews are hooked up with a rather enormous mansion that was the site of the unsolved death of a famous actress (Laura Elena Harring, which makes Nancy Drew a sort of less surreal sequel to Inland Empire). Naturally, despite her “no sleuthing” vow to her dad, Nancy uses all her pluck and ingenuity to solve the crime.

All of this is presented in a sunny, entertaining fashion, but it also feels like a film whose initial premise was that of a parody of the Brady Bunch Movie stripe, yet got reconfigured during a series of rewrites. When Carson and Nancy get their first tour of the house, the realtor cheerfully asks, “Oh, did I mention there’s a strange caretaker?” And Nancy’s first few days at her new school illustrate how different her life has been in River Heights, with her straight-from-the-50’s homemade clothes and her mad CPR skills making her something of a pariah since all the other girls are behave like living Bratz dolls.

Despite this rich satirical material, director Andrew Fleming (The Craft, Dick) approaches everything with a sincerity that’s at odds with what’s actually going on – ridiculous utterances like “A secret passageway!” and the quick-as-a-flash emergency tracheotomy that Nancy performs with a ball-point pen would be hilarious in a broader comedy, but don’t really work here because, well, they just come off as kind of stupid.

Despite that, there’s a lot of enjoy in Nancy Drew, believe it or not. Roberts is a winning young actress, and would probably have a bright career even if she wasn’t the spawn of Eric and the niece of Julia. The real surprise, though, is Josh Flitter as Corky, a sort of 12-year-old version of Danny DeVito who becomes Nancy’s biggest admirer and reluctant assistant sleuth. Flitter takes what could have been a stock character – the annoying chubby kid – and steals every scene he’s in with his attitude, charisma, and natural comic timing. The kid's just flat-out hilarious.

Adults may find stretches of the film contrived and silly, but for young girls hungry for examples that are brainier than drunk-driving hotel heiresses, “Nancy Drew” is a step in the right direction.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15572&reviewer=413
originally posted: 06/15/07 13:33:38
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User Comments

7/05/09 art THIS MOVIE STINK"S! 1 stars
9/01/08 Sam Great if you are 11 yrs old .. atrocious acting .. 3 stars
10/23/07 William Goss Wholesome w/o being preachy, enough so to make up for tonal missteps and general hokiness. 3 stars
6/24/07 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Nepotism strikes again. I miss the days when talent got you the job! 1 stars
6/19/07 samanark We enjoyed it and that it was really cute. Loved the outfits 4 stars
6/16/07 bullit16 Not as bad as I thought it would be. My kids certainly enjoyed it 4 stars
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  15-Jun-2007 (PG)
  DVD: 11-Mar-2008



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