Emma Roberts as Nancy Drew
Josh Flitter as Corky
Craig Gellis as Thug
Rich Cooper as Charlie
Max Thieriot as Ned Nickerson
Rachael Leigh Cook as Jane Brighton
Amy Bruckner as Bess
Tate Donovan as Carson Drew
Barry Bostwick as Dashiel Biedermeyer
Kay Panabaker as George
Cliff Bemis as Chief McGinnis
Laura Harring as Dehlia Draycott
Monica Parker as Hannah
Caroline Aaron as Barbara Barbara
Marshall Bell as Leshing
Kelly Vitz as Trish
Adam Goldberg as Arrogant Director
Krystle Hernandez as Allie
Dana Lee as Louie
Pat Carroll as Landlady
Emma Roberts delivers a good performance in "Nancy Drew." Young girls will enjoy it, but adults might find the tone and pacing a bit all over the map.
"Nancy Drew" is based on the long running book series created by Mildred Wirt Benson.
Nancy Drew is a spunky teenager from a small, quaint town that seems stuck in the 1950's. She is athletic, intelligent, resourceful, brave, and an excellent detective. However, when her father takes a temporary job in Los Angeles, she finds herself going from the town star to high school outcast. This doesn't deter Nancy, though, as she immerses herself in yet another mystery (against her father's wishes).
The mansion she stays in with her father holds a Hollywood murder mystery. Rising star Dehlia Draycott was killed in the house in the 1980s, but her murder was never solved. Nancy begins piecing together clues from items left in the house, but she eventually turns over one stone too many. As resourceful as Nancy is, she'll need the help of new and old friends to solve the case and escape the bad guys.
"Nancy Drew" is rated PG for mild violence, thematic elements and brief language.
I was probably a bit more receptive to "Nancy Drew" than many other folks in my demographic. My 8-year-old daughter recently started reading the "Nancy Drew" books and was counting down the days till the movie hit. It was a lot of fun to see her enjoy the movie though it obviously wasn't aimed towards me.
I was particularly impressed with Emma Roberts as Nancy Drew. She's pretty, funny, and intelligent. She's a nonconformist in that she embraces '50s fashion and etiquette rather than modern chic. This makes her a much more positive role model for girls than, say, Bratz dolls. The fact that she's not deterred by being made fun of makes her all the more appealing. As for the rest of the cast, the main standout is Josh Flitter as Corky. He's a little bit obnoxious, but his relentless pursuit for the affections of Nancy provides much needed comedy relief. The guest cameos provide a lot of fun, too. Look for Chris Kattan, Adam Goldberg, and even Bruce Willis.
I think "Nancy Drew" fans will generally be happy with this film. Most of the elements of the books seem to be here. You have the resourceful heroine, the mild peril, hints of the supernatural, and the moderately competent villains. And even though she's made fun of, she comes out on top in the end. I think it will hook young girls on the character, too. My daughter was certainly happy with the film and wanted to take her friends to it. As an adult, I also appreciated the occasionally wicked sense of humor. For example, Nancy responds to a fellow student's medical emergency... and ends up doing a tracheotomy. Its bizarre moments like these that show the creators aren't taking themselves too seriously.
What Didn't Work:
"Nancy Drew" seems a little unsure of what direction to take. The beginning of the film starts out by mocking Nancy Drew and her town seemingly stuck in the '50s. It's almost like "The Brady Bunch" movie where they make fun of these characters stuck in the past. This continues as Nancy attends her LA school. But for the rest of the film this mocking tone is almost completely dropped and the story focuses entirely on the mystery. It's arguably the more engaging portion of the story, but at the same time many of the mystery scenes slow the pacing to almost a halt. It doesn't help matters that the ultimate solution to the mystery is a bit predictable and not nearly as clever as the setup might make you think. So the changes in tone and pacing give the story a bit of a disjointed feel.
The Bottom Line:
I believe young girls will enjoy "Nancy Drew" quite a bit. This film seems like a good start to an ongoing series. And it's entertaining enough that parents dragged along won't be bored out of their minds.