Friday, June 15, 2007

Nancy Drew

I never really read Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. I was more a Three Investigators fan as a kid (hint, Hollywood, hint). Still, I like a good mystery and never had a problem with the concept of children solving mysteries better than adults. The latest film version of Nancy Drew gets herself into a jam or two, but manages to pull through with style. Good for her!

Nancy Drew (Emma Roberts) is the greatest detective in her home town of River Heights. Even the local chief of police (Cliff Benis) relies on her insight and ability to solve crimes. The trouble is she’s only a teenager and her father (Tate Donovan) wants her to stop her sleuthing before she gets into more trouble than she can handle.

Nancy journeys to Los Angeles with her father and makes s promise to act more normal and give up her mysteries. Unknown to her father, however, Nancy has chosen to stay in the former home of a famous actresss (Laura Harring), who was mysteriously killed, and attempt to crack the unsolved case.

In L.A. Nancy makes a new friend (Josh Fitter) gets harassed by some uppity girls (Daniella Monet, Kelly Vitz), and tries to act normal. The trouble is Nancy isn’t normal and soon with the help of a friend from back home (Max Thieriot) and her new freinds in L.A. Nancy is on the case trying to solve the murder of the famous actress.

Nancy Drew has been around a long time and many fans of the series were displeased with the casting of Roberts in the title role. She does a good job balancing Nancy’s natural talent and small town values against the backdrop of L.A. She comes off as a smart and quite capable young lady. I like how the film champions Nancy and her abilities, and slowly wins over people by showing what she can accomplish with only her curiosity and her brain.

My one major complaint with the film is the fish-out-of-water plot device. My favorite scenes of the film come early when the characters are in their natural setting of River Heights (where the cheese drips right off the screen). While I don’t mind the film choosing to put Nancy in L.A., the average naive girl gets picked on by big city girls plotline is overused and not all that engaging. Nor does it seem plausible that the smart girl in the other scenes would be so gullible here. However once the film moves past these stumbling blocks and gets on with the mystery things pick up nicely.

The movie isn’t perfect, and I would have preferred the action to take place in River Heights, but the story is cute, clever, and full of a light-hearted campy fun that fans of all ages can enjoy. Here are the beginnings of what could become a nice little series if the studio would be so inclined. Although I wouldn’t wait for a next entry with eager anticipation, the idea of another Nancy Drew film sounds better to me than most proposed sequels.

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