When 16 year old amateur sleuth Nancy Drew (Emma Roberts) and father Carson (Tate Donovan) head to Los Angeles for the summer, they move into an old Hollywood mansion that was formerly the home of murdered film star Dehlia Darycott (Laura Elena Harring). With her River Heights boyfriend Ned (Max Thieriot) and 12 year old school pal Corky (Josh Flitter) in tow, Nancy begins to investigate the circumstances of the star's mysterious death. There's Leshing (Marshall Bell), the old housekeeper, Jane (Rachael Leigh Cook), the orphan who might be Dehlia's daughter, and Dashiel Biedermeyer (Barry Bostwick), the high powered attorney in charge of Dehlia's estate. One thing is clear, someone is keen to make sure Nancy doesn't succeed in discovering any secrets from the past.
Review by Louise Keller:
"You're only happy when there's trouble," Ned (Max Thieriot) tells Emma Roberts' Nancy Drew, teenage amateur sleuth extraordinaire. She's bright, wholesome and loves solving mysteries. She's Nancy Drew, the popular book character created by author Mildred Wirt Benson and read by thousands of pre-teen girls all over the world. Although the film is set in the present, the essence of Nancy, who is effusively polite and wears practical, old fashioned clothes, is retained. And while she might be called 'square' and a 'do-gooder', there's something compelling about Nancy, whose innocent enthusiasm becomes contagious as she throws herself into her latest challenge - to discover the truth behind the unsolved mystery death of former Hollywood movie star, Dehlia Darycott (Laura Elena Harring).
When Nancy and her father (Tate Donovan) move to Los Angeles for several months, she agrees to his request of 'no more sleuthing'. But the mysteries their new home offers, with hidden projectors, secret passes and memorabilia belonging to Dehlia Darycott, prove to be irresistible. With her keen eye for detail and persistence, Nancy soon starts to stack up a pile of clues, leading her to a telling sequence of photographs, a Chinese box with a secret compartment and the mysterious 'Z', who holds the key to the puzzle. Emma Roberts (Aquamarine) is perfectly cast as the immaculately dressed, wide-eyed Nancy, delivering just the right mix of likeability with righteousness. The fact that she wears penny loafers and conservative woollen dresses is used as a converse attraction. At first her new school friends make fun of her ('Omigod, I'm sitting next to Martha Stewart'), but eventually are won over ('sleuthing is an attractive trait in women'), and even her super politeness ('Is there a law against common courtesy in LA') becomes cool.
Nancy Drew is a sweet family film that pre-teen girls should love. I write 'should love' because in many ways Nancy Drew is an outdated concept. Will young girls in this day and age relate to the prim and proper youngster whose passion is solving the unsolvable crimes of the day? But then, as the song says 'Everything old is new again.'
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NANCY DREW (PG)
CAST: Emma Roberts, Josh Flitter, Craig Gellis, Rich Cooper, Max Thieriot, Rachael Leigh Cook, Amy Bruckner, Laura Harring, Bruce Willis
PRODUCER: Jerry Weintraub
DIRECTOR: Andrew Fleming
SCRIPT: Andrew Fleming, Tiffany Paulsen (characters by Mildred Wirt Benson)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Alexander Gruszynski
EDITOR: Jeff Freeman
MUSIC: Not credited
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tony Fanning
RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: QLD: June 21; VIC: June 28; WA, SA: July 5, 2007