Saturday, June 23, 2007

Nancy Sleuths Again! Nancy Drew, The Movie

Kids! They're unpredictable! My eight-year-old grandson, whose recreational taste runs to playing army, Spiderman X-box games, and pony riding on mountain trails, on this midsummer's eve declared that he wanted to see the movie Nancy Drew! So off we went to see the movie, swallowed up by a dark cineplex under a brilliantly blue summer sky!

Full disclosure: my childhood reading was Nancy-less! I fell into the crack between the waves of popularity and neglect which have befallen Nancy and the Hardy brothers over the years, and my first experience with the series was in library school, where we read one or two as examples of formulaic series fiction.

Despite my glaring lack of expertise, my opinion of the movie pretty much paralleled reviewer Ty Burr's, whose The Best Old Movies for Families: A Guide to Watching Together was featured in my post of June 17, when he said, " could have been worse." Although Nancy's persona in the film is definitely that of the consummately serious nerd, the tone of the movie is pleasantly campy. There's a bit of irony provided by two cliched California girls who provide comic relief as they struggle to "get" Nancy's sincerity (one IM's the other "OMG, I sitting next to Martha Stewart!") and attempt to restyle her preppy plaid skirts and penny loafers.

The plot, which takes Nancy to L.A. with her lawyer father, has Nancy violating her dad's ruling that she cease detecting and be a normal teenager as she secretly locates the lost will of a murdered movie star and restores her fortune to her long-lost daughter. This plot line is typical enough to make any Drew fan feel right at home, but it pretty much gets lost in the muddle of scenes as Nancy escapes slow-footed bad guys, steals through secret panels and dark passages, and has the requisite California car chase in her famous blue roadster. No matter. The fun is in watching one conventional mystery element after another appear on screen as Nancy remains primly perky and resourceful through it all.

Emma Roberts, who plays Nancy, is reputed to be the niece of Julia Roberts and does share that luminous Roberts' smile which just lights up the screen. Nancy is supposedly sixteen (at least she's apparently a legal driver), but Miss Roberts looks more like a chaste twelve or thirteen-year-old. My grandson was much taken with her incredible cuteness, an actressy aspect which he's certainly never remarked upon before!

Nancy Drew is rated PG, supposedly for the occasional "violent" pratfalls among the villains and the "thematic elements" which in one scene touch upon the possible long-ago pregnancy of the movie star just before her murder.

There were worse movies on the marquee than this one, and it's certainly not a bad way to spend some time with the kids this summer. My advice? Save it for a rainy summer day! Then buy them a few Nancy Drew mysteries for those dark and stormy summer nights.

Oh, yeah. What's important is that my grandson thought the movie was "awesome!"



  • The Nancy Drew books were what got me hooked on reading - she was my ultimate hero. Instead of wasting your children's time and brain cells with a useless campy movie, get them to read the books, which are actually are somewhat clever and exciting for kids (more specifically, girls) as young as 6 and 7.

    By Blogger Emily, at 7:10 AM  

  • I never would have started reading in 3rd and 4th grade or jumped ahead of my classmates the way I did if it had not been for the Hardy Boys books. Somtime in the early 90's a school librarian told me that they had all been removed from school libraries because they were not considered "good reading material." I was upset and dumbfounded. Is that still the case?

    By the way, I would like to know if anybody remembers another series that I loved EVEN BETTER, about 6th grade, which I have not seen or heard of in years. It is the Tom Swift series. At the time I thought they were FANTASTIC! Are they still around?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:09 AM  

  • Well said. Also take a look at my review of the Enola Holmes series, posted June 24, which takes a Victorian girl detective (Sherlock's little sister) on some engaging cases, as well as Betsy Byars' Herculeah Jones mysteries.

    By Blogger GTC, at 10:11 AM  

  • I had the Nancy Drew series in MY school library; I don't know if they survived my sucessor's vigorous weeding though!

    By Blogger GTC, at 10:13 AM  

  • GTC, Do you know anything about the Tom Swift books? I've looked for them for my kids, but have not seen hyde nor hair of them since I read them, which was about 1975 in a city library in Jackson, Tennessee. About a young genius that solves mysteries using his latest inventions. Besides being fun, they were great for getting me interested in science and inventing.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:36 AM  

  • We did have Tom Swift books in my school library, although they didn't circulate that much. They came from two consecutive series, the latest from the early 1970's, I think.

    Here's a web site which links to Amazon for purchase from third parties and cover four distinct series under the name Tom Swift. You probably read Tom Swift II or Tom Swift III; these look like the ones I was familiar with.

    Hope you find your favorites!

    By Blogger GTC, at 1:41 PM  

  • Hi very nice reviews for movie nancy drew..........well I also searching some good movies for my little niece, so today my niece and me will watch nancy drew movie. My friend also said that this is an amazing movie to watch.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:35 AM  

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