March 30, 2008

Reviewed by Monika Bartyzel

Nancy Drew has been sleuthing for a whopping 78 years. She’s zipped through decades, solved an insane number of crimes, moved from roadsters to Mustangs, and always kept the same core group of friends – George, Bess, and her boyfriend, Ned. But all of that was textual, and considering her two forays in front of the camera (the television stints in 1996 and 2002), there was no telling what her feature debut would be like. Would she retain the strong female characterisation of her predecessors? Or, would this be some fluffy Hollywood take on the icon, one that watered down all the things that made her such a powerhouse role model for young girls?

Luckily for the famous detective, and all the girls and women who have followed her through all these decades, Nancy Drew is a smart, light, and fun movie that honors the icon without succumbing to the usual pressures of modern teen fare. Nancy (Emma Roberts) retains the classic style and attitude, but pulls it into a new millennium by heading out of River Heights and straight to Los Angeles, and a big Hollywood mystery.

It’s partially a shame – George and Bess barely show up on the screen, and much of the story revolves around taking Nancy out of her element, but it still works, and gives the character a fresh take for sleuthing. After a case that brings her a little too close to danger, Nancy and her father are heading for Los Angeles so he can do some business, and she can spend some time away from sleuthing and discover what it’s like to be a normal girl.

They move into the house of a late actress, one that has a mystery just itching to be solved by Nancy. Despite her best efforts, she finds herself in over her head with the case, as well as life at school in Los Angeles where her classic style, love of school, and manners don’t fit in with the status quo. Still, she persists, and moves forward, undaunted by judgements about her, or dangers she could face.

DVD Particulars

The disc includes both widescreen and full-screen formats, plus a decent collection of special features. It would have been great to see a little more about the history of Nancy Drew, but that aside, the blips should interest young fans itching for the DVD.

Nancy Drew: Kids at Work – Ranking in at almost 10 minutes, this featurette discusses how Roberts was cast as Nancy, some bites about makeup and her specially made roadster, and some interviews.

Gag Reel

Joanna “Pretty Much Amazing” Music Video

Mini-Featurette Gallery:

Our IPod Idolatry This is just a simple blip where a few of the film’s stars look through their IPods and share their taste in music, but it’s neat to see what the kid’s are into, and how they tastes are similar, or different.

Nancy Drew’s Detective Kit – In this mini-featurette, Emma Roberts quickly explains all the little gadgets in her detective kit, and shows a few extra props as well.

Day on the Set – While it might seem like a full-scale look into what it’s like on the set, this bit is really just some light footage in the makeup trailer, and talk about on-set jokes.

Emma’s Last Day – Finally, this featurette shows the last scene that Emma shot for the film.

Final Words

Nancy Drew is an icon of strength, morals, and practicality – presented in a way that revels in her coolness, rather than focusing in on, and questioning, her difference. The film is fun, smart, and perfect for young girls, or anyone looking for light, positive family fare.

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