Plot: It’s been 60 years since the teen sleuth has been on the big screen and this time Emma Roberts (Julia’s niece) stars as the teen sleuth who movies to Los Angeles with her father (Tate Donovan). Once there, she goes back and forth on whether or not to poke her noise into the mystery death of a famous actress.
Who’s it for: This one is mainly for teenage girls, without enough to satisfy mystery fans. And I question whether the older “Nancy Drew” fan base will be entertained.
Expectations: I never read “Nancy Drew” or “The Hardy Boys.” I was a “Choose Your Own Adventure” guy, but I was looking forward to seeing what could be done with this film. After all, they have already planned a sequel, so the studio believes in it.
Emma Roberts as Nancy Drew: They found the right person to play the plucky teen. Yes, the penny loafers are there, and Roberts finds the spirit of the character, with tons of charm, but as soon as she heads to Los Angeles the world she’s in feels terribly stale.
Marshall Bell as Leshing: Bell is the kind of character actor you always recognize, but never know the name of. He’s the caretaker of the estate and is constantly showing up out of nowhere. It’s fun the first time, but runs the course quickly.
Talking: Nancy says jiffy like it never went out of style. But there’s also Corky (Josh Flitter) who looks like a small Turtle from “Entourage” but talks like the most annoying kid from your childhood.
Sights and sounds: There’s a couple of odd moments such as a moment in a Chinese box shop that seems more like a bad music video from “Kids Incorporated.” And a car chase plays out more like an old Adam West “Batman” moment that just doesn’t fit in this film.
“Nancy Drew” is flat. There is a nice beginning in River Heights, with the town treating Nancy as a humble celebrity. Once she arrives in Los Angeles, the mystery seems interesting, but there are too many odd high school moments. And even when Bruce Willis shows up for a fun cameo, it’s ridiculously out of place. I think a character like Nancy Drew can still work in today’s pop culture world, but unfortunately the film doesn’t believe in her enough. Nancy is stuck with annoying friends and they should have made a mystery that kids would have wanted to try and solve right along with Nancy. It seems director Andrew Fleming doesn’t know if he should honor, make-fun-of or update “Nancy Drew,” which is a shame because a character like Nancy Drew can survive as a role model in a world with Britney and Paris, but this film doesn’t give her a fair chance.
Overall Grade: 4