Nancy Drew is almost charming when she’s out snooping in the boonies, but she doesn’t make a whole lot of sense nosing around Hollywood wearing Bree Van De Kamp’s hand-me-downs. The makers of Nancy Drew understand this, and they half-heartedly struggle to sell audiences on the idea that a modern tween would be allowed to do the work of police officers and professional private investigators. Maybe in a bumblefuck town in some flyover state, from where Nancy Drew (Emma Robberts) and her father Carson (Tate Donovan) actually hail, but certainly not Los Angeles. The Drews briefly relocate to the city, with Nancy changing schools with suspicious ease and promising to never sleuth again after a case involving the capture of Chris Kattan left her hanging from the roof of a church. But the girl is up to her old tricks, keeping it on the down low that the house she rented for herself and her father was the site of a famous actress’s mysterious drowning. She’ll solve the case (with MacGyverish ingenuity and help from a ragtag posse of accomplices that suggests the cast of a dorky Nickelodeon show dressed by Project Runway rejects), but the filmmakers extol her cunning without the necessary irony. Andrew Fleming’s direction, like Nancy’s duds, aims for sincerity, but he doesn’t fully reconcile the girl’s outmoded existence, trading in the sort of Scooby-Dooish character arching the Nancy Drew of the 1930s would have seen through in a heartbeat. If the entire film was shot in the style of one scene involving the disposal of a bomb from the back of the girl’s car (think My First Femme Fatale), Nancy Drew might have been a kiddie masterpiece. Instead, it has the air of a botched transplant: If the first shot is any indication, the girl should have stayed on the shelves of elementary school libraries everywhere.
- Andrew Fleming
- Andrew Fleming, Tiffany Paulsen
- Emma Roberts, Josh Flitter, Max Thieriot, Rachael Leigh Cook, Tate Donovan, Barry Bostwick
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