Nancy Drew would probably be a good movie if they had simply cast Emma Roberts as the sleuth and let the formula work its magic. It does work, you know. Pretty teen with a nose for trouble getting herself entangled in an exciting mystery. We girls and women love mysteries and don’t require all that much decoration around them – just a good story that makes us use our otherwise stressed-out brains.
But alas, this Nancy Drew had to have the “fun” stamp peppered all over it. There’s the kooky best friend (Josh Flitter) who gets all the laughs but never the girl, there’s the catty popular girls who can be counted on to put Nancy down at every opportunity. There’s the cool clothes, gadgets and pop references. The only thing there isn’t is a good story.
The fault cannot be laid on Ms. Roberts, who shows her adorableness in this film almost as much as she does in the vastly superior mermaid tale, Aqua Marine. She makes a good Nancy. She’s smart, she’s cute and she’s mostly non-threatening. She isn’t going to get Cagney-and-Lacied out of anyone’s office for being a forthright beyotch, in other words.
The makers of the film clearly felt that today’s (apparently shallow) girl culture would not relate to the old Nancy Drew and might think it too old-fashioned. Their solution? Make old-fashioned-ness a character trait. Nancy says, “I like old-fashioned things.”
The film radiates paranoia by writer/director Andy Fleming (and/or those looking over his shoulder to make sure the movie is profitable), as if bringing back Nancy Drew was as controversial as gay sheep ranchers in Brokeback Mountain. Is it really that big of a deal to bring back a character that is many decades old by now?
In their attempt to modernize the film they have stripped it of what made it so interesting for girls back when the books were first published. The real draw for the Nancy Drew story has always been the mysteries she finds herself involved in. Even the TV show with Pamela Sue Martin had more going on in terms of story and plot.
In this updated version, it’s clear that the mystery has been put on the back burner, and in its place Nancy’s desire to “sleuth” is a type of compulsion she must cure herself of in order to socialize more. She is made out to be a great sleuth but also someone who is too perfect to be liked by anyone. Surely there is more for this bright girl to do than to be the butt of every dumb, overused high school cliché there is?
Someone wasn’t using their imagination when they concocted the modern day Nancy. The mystery itself, involving a haunted house and an old Hollywood star, wimps out all over the place and is way too easy to figure out. We girls can handle a lot more than that. After all, we are the ones entrusted to give birth for god’s sake. Bring it on. We can take it.
Most girls I know love nothing more than getting down to the nitty gritty of it all, even if it would mean getting their Abercrombie cropped pants dirty. Roberts is more than capable of handling more. Hopefully, this will be taken into consideration if there is a second Nancy Drew movie.
At the end of the day, though, girls just want to have fun, and if you bring them in groups to see this film they will have a great time, not because they are wildly entertained, but because they are girls, and it doesn’t matter where they are or what they’re doing. Most of them are always looking for the joy in the room.