Thanks to the studio, I’ve just watched a screener of the enhanced Nancy Drew movie.
Emma Roberts stars as the perky teenage sleuth. (And I was surprised to see that Tate Donovan is playing dads now.) To keep the character faithful to decades of readers while still making a modern teen movie, the creators opted for a culture clash subtext. Nancy goes from being Rory Gilmore, the most popular girl in her small town, to being a smart, accomplished, completely unpopular girl in Hollywood. (It’s rather Cordelia-ish.)
When Nancy and her dad move to California, they’re also forced to move into the modern day from their idyllic, old-fashioned small town where the sheriff gets help from Nancy and the whole town prays for their safe departure. Their spooky new house leads to Nancy investigating the mysterious disappearance of the actress who lived there decades ago (which means she was last seen in 1981, which made me feel OLD).
I think they messed up by taking Nancy away from her friends and giving her two shallow fashion-obsessed obstacles to interact with. The message is that Nancy is weird in the wrong ways. It’s ok to be pierced and wear strange-but-fashionable clothes. It’s not ok to be smart and value old-fashioned ideas and outfits. She saves the day, but she’s still a laughingstock at school. Although I did love Nancy’s ensembles. She wears plaid almost every time, but the skirts and jumpers are adorable.
(Ok, geek gripe now. One of the pop-ups says that penny loafers were last popular in the 50s. Does no one remember the preppie comeback in the 80s? I do. I wore penny loafers to school with polo shirts and Bermuda button bags in hot pink and lime green.)
I wanted to see a lot more of the distinctions between Nancy’s attitudes and abilities and the modern day. (I wished for almost a Brady Bunch movie approach.) There wasn’t nearly enough of that kind of material, though. Most of it is a slow-moving mystery where Nancy tries to find out what happened to the movie star. Much of the plot happens because the bad guys keep attacking her, silly choices made just to keep the action moving. I get the impression the filmmakers thought a movie aimed at teens had to be dumbed down.
Perhaps to make up for that, the version of the movie currently playing on Pay-Per-View and On Demand (and the one I watched) has been renamed Drew’s Clues and dubbed a “Movie That Pops”. Which means that pop-up video-style blips show up to give bits of trivia and making-of information. Unfortunately, I don’t think this version is available on DVD; instead, the disc includes a gag reel, a music video, and several mini-featurettes.
The very first pop-up tells us that “This movie is based on a popular book series”, shortly followed by “She solves mysteries and drives a cool car.” This did not impress me, but they did get better. When Chris Kattan showed up in an early cameo, his name appeared on-screen just as we were telling each other, “oh, it’s that guy.” That was handy. And the stunt information — how they were done, and which ones Roberts did herself — was interesting. Here’s a clip that shows examples.
And I love trivia like finding out the missing actress’s film titles are the names of Nancy Drew books.
I’d recommend this for the younger set, but I don’t think it’s of appeal to adults on their own, unfortunately. Find out more at the official site, where you can enter to win a $5,000 shopping spree.