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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look40.82%
Average: 16.33%
Pretty Bad: 26.53%
Total Crap: 16.33%

7 reviews, 7 user ratings

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Nancy Drew
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by Erik Childress

"Not Even A Lady In Red & The Hardly Boys Could Save This"
1 stars

Going into a 2007 version of the popular Nancy Drew series, I was completely prepared to see a modern, self-mocking, irony-packed children’s film in hopes of commanding the attention of the adults chaperoning them. Certainly not a far-flung expectation with director Andrew Fleming at the helm who did wonders with the underappreciated satire of the Watergate scandal, Dick. What I didn’t expect was a complete borefest that still hadn’t made up its mind which angle it wanted to tackle with the character. Even worse, the uneven split between tradition and mockery fails to produce any sustained enjoyment from either side for any age group.

We begin with Nancy (Emma Roberts) solving one of the many cases the local sheriffs have been at a loss for closure. She even gets the non-threatening culprits (including one Chris Kattan) to fess up and walk their way towards arrest. Daddy Drew (Tate Donovan) wishes his little girl would stop “sleuthing” and he’s moving them to the swanky side of California thanks to his new job. Mr. Drew apparently trusts his daughter enough to handle real estate fluctuations as she chooses a classic Hollywood-style home that just happens to have an old school mystery attached to it.

Actress Dehlia Draycott (Laura Harring) disappeared decades ago. Her fortune has been lft in limbo because of a missing will and the seemingly only living link to her past is the creepy caretaker (Marshall Bell) who comes attached to the Drew’s new home purchase. Leave it to busybody Nancy though to trace the Draycott lineage to a daughter (Rachael Leigh Cook) who never knew of her celebrity heirtage. Naturally, somebody doesn’t want this knowledge a matter of public record and takes turns trying to run over or bomb Nancy whose greatest avoidance is actually the pestering younger brother of a classmate (Josh Flitter) hoping to provide an alternative to the doting Ned Nickerson (Max Thieriot) from back home.

In the midst of flipping between boredom and baffled indignation, it dawned on me how incredibly unfair this was to young Emma Roberts. Here she is pouring her all into recreating a persona for a beloved character and the movie around her keeps trying to fit her into a mold that is constantly rejecting her. Allowing the film to move at the pace of the opening scenes with cheery optimism and cartoon villains may not have worked as prime entertainment for adults (even those who grew up with Nancy) but at least it would have had a consistent Disneyesque feel as a children’s film. Fleming and co-writer Tiffany Paulsen can’t make up their minds though, playing the fish-out-of-water game that personified the timewarp disposition of the Brady Bunch films. They can’t even commit to that mentality though, finding fault mainly with her wardrobe and goody-two-shoes attitude. Even Nancy’s pop appears to wish his little girl would follow the influences of Britney Spears and party instead of being an encyclopedic adventure-seeker which is about as appropriate as mentioning that you can see Paulsen’s tits at Mr. Skin for her work in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. Happy research, Nancy!

While we’re recommending has been actresses here, it’s distracting to note that the film has a more pronounced timewarp than David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and yet not a trace of irony apparent in that it also features Laura Harring. As the missing starlet, Harring’s reels (and domain) display her to be a moviestar of a golden era who specializes in romanticized period pieces. Since the film is set in present time, that would make her not a Garboesque figure of the 40s and 50s, but more the Olivia Hussey of the 70s who also pretty much fell off the face of the earth around the same time of Michael Pare’s Eddie Wilson, or just Michael Pare. Yes, the golden era of the Lost Horizon remake is now an intricate part of a 2007 film based on a 1930s character who has been modernized just enough for the “Queen Bees and Wannabes” to poke fun at her fashion sense.

For a series that has been updated constantly throughout the decades, casting out archaic references of elder periods to make it more generational-friendly, there’s no harm in trying to do that now that Pamela Sue Martin is too old to refill those penny loafers. But either update the technology in River Heights or find a clever outlook on Nancy’s outdated optimism. Props to the filmmakers’ hope though that including Marshall Bell in an informercial will help solve the problems for beleaguered single mothers everywhere. With the exception of Emma Roberts’ winning performance in the title role, Nancy Drew is an abysmal failure on the children’s movie scene. No lessons to be learned. No entertainment to be found. On the basic levels of a large-print 100-page mystery, it only has two suspects and one, thusly identified as “creepy”, can be eliminated on sight. I’ve often referred to the Harry Potter novels as a high-falutin’ Hardy Boys series with new, not entirely-hard-to-figure mysteries stuffed into each title, but Andrew Fleming’s version of Nancy Drew make them seem like The Big Sleep.

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originally posted: 06/15/07 14:00:00
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User Comments

7/06/09 art THIS MOVIE STINK"S! 1 stars
9/01/08 Sam Great if you are 11 yrs old .. atrocious acting .. 3 stars
10/24/07 William Goss Wholesome w/o being preachy, enough so to make up for tonal missteps and general hokiness. 3 stars
6/25/07 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Nepotism strikes again. I miss the days when talent got you the job! 1 stars
6/20/07 samanark We enjoyed it and that it was really cute. Loved the outfits 4 stars
6/17/07 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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