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 shes 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), Nancys 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 (Nickelodeons 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 veterans instinct for timing.
If only writer/director Andrew Fleming and co-writer Tiffany Paulsen had been as focused. Theyve 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, its, nevertheless, wooden and dated although Nancys 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. Its quaint and campy, an odd combination.