“Nancy Drew,” review by Susan Granger

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‘Way back when I was a ‘tween, I devoured all the “Nancy Drew” mystery novels written by various authors using the pseydonym Carolyn Keene.

Still passionate, determined and ambitious, 16 year-old Nancy Drew (Emma Roberts) moves from midwestern River Heights to Hollywood, where her windower father (“The O.C.’s” Tate Donovan) has rented the creepy estate that once belonged to famous actress Dehlia Draycott (Laura Elena Harring). Nancy chose the Draycott Mansion specifically because of the unsolved mystery revolving around the death of the glamorous film star.

While she’s determined to solve the case, Nancy, in her preppy penny loafers, must also adjust to making friends in a new high school where her vacuous classmates are obsessed with fashion trends. Then Ned Nickerson (Max Thierot), Nancy’s hometown beau, arrives in her cool, sky blue Nash Metropolitan convertible as a surprise, much to the chagrin of Corky (Josh Flitter), a fast-talking 12 year-old who has a crush on Nancy.

Emma Roberts (Nickelodeon’s “Unfabulous”) is a delightful revelation. With coltish energy and disarming naturalness, she has one of the most expressive young faces on the screen today, reminiscent of Aunt Julia. And Josh Flitter is an expert comic – with a veteran’s instinct for timing.

If only writer/director Andrew Fleming and co-writer Tiffany Paulsen had been as focused. They’ve created a retro teenager who is priggish, rather than charming – with self-confidence that borders on insufferable arrogance, inquiring: “Is there a law against common courtesy in Los Angeles?”

Desperate to be contemporary, it’s, nevertheless, wooden and dated although Nancy’s sleuthing is occasionally nifty – as is Bruce Willis’ uncredited cameo and Ralph Salls’ music. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Nancy Drew” is a sweet yet clueless 5. It’s quaint and campy, an odd combination.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.