Tuesday, September 08, 2009

NANCY DREW: A CAPSULE REVIEW. Speaking of precocious kids who like to solve crimes, I just stumbled across (for free, so you can't beat that) the 2007 movie "update" of NANCY DREW. You know, I was surprised at myself for actually enjoying it. Doubtless it is a lightweight bit of fluff that COULD'VE been better. But it COULD'VE been a whole lot worse. Director Andrew Fleming is best known by me for having directed that 90's teenage witch movie THE CRAFT but he also helmed one episode of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT so he can't be all bad, right? Here Fleming manages to place the Nancy Drew franchise firmly in the 21st century while still managing to evoke enough of that old-fashioned vibe to keep Nancy Drew fans (of which I am not one) placated. Nancy herself prefers to go around in 50's & early 60's fashions but still manages to keep her Mac and her ipod in her sleuthing kit. The plot, such as it is, concerns the mystery of an old-time (read 1970s) movie actress who mysteriously disappeared, re-appeared and was murdered. Nancy and her father move into the actress' deserted (Sunset Blvd-like) mansion which is rumoured to be haunted. There is also the question of a possible child born secretly to the actress and given up for adoption; this daughter stands to inherit all of the dead movie star's estate. While the "mystery" element (combined with quite light horror elements) of the film is diverting and there are one or two dangerous scrapes to keep things moving, the real reason to watch the film, I think, is for the performance of Emma Roberts in the title role. She seems to get it. Her portrayal of Nancy Drew actually makes us believe that this girl IS more interested in pathology than pajama parties. Coming over strongly like a reincarnation of the young Debbie Gibson combined with my cousin Loran at her age, Emma Roberts manages to carry the entire film. The rest of the cast is adequate and likeable, the limited special effects are a little dodgy once or twice (particularly in the "bomb down the manhole" explosion scene) and the haunted house set is quite superb. The whole vibe of the film is something akin to that early 90's favourite of mine: MATILDA -- but without the psychokinesis. So, without strongly recommending it, I would say that it's worth a watch if you're at all interested in this kind of thing. Which I'm usually not. So I suppose it's a better example of the genre. Whatever that is. Hell, go watch it. You could do a lot worse! And hey, I hear there's already a sequel on the way. I wonder if it really will concern Nancy Drew's visit to Loch Ness?!?!?! If so, I'll be looking for it more than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick.

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