Nancy Drew – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Ah to be a teen. Not a care in the world except what you’re wearing to school tomorrow so you look cool for the popular kids. The movies that really speak to you are ones like High School Musical and your favorite show is Hannah Montana. You’re trying to find ways to make money so you can afford those Ugg boots or Chloe sunglasses. You’ve got annoying siblings who go out of their way to embarrass you every chance they get and you get in trouble with your parents for texting after lights out. They sooo don’t understand you anyway.

And then along comes a movie like Nancy Drew.

Nancy Drew is based on the very popular book series that I’m sure everyone has heard about. Nancy is a very proper, polite, plaid-wearing teenage detective who solves all kinds of crimes ranging from murder to theft. She’s a character that many girls can relate to on some level, which is why she’s been around for decades. She’s beloved and cherished and has had several spin-off book series and TV shows. Nancy was and still is a great character for girls to look up to. She’s a great role model and shows girls that they can do anything that boys can do and that they can put their focus on something other than makeup and clothes.

Myself personally though, I’ve never been able to relate to her. As silly as this may sound, my problem has been this: Nancy Drew is the kind of girl that every parent wants. She’s a good student, she’s resourceful, she dresses very conservative. She’s perfect. That’s not the kind of girl that girls want to be when they’re in the pre- to early teen years, which is the target audience for most of the books and the new movie.

However, Nancy Drew does do an excellent job of taking the old-fashioned character and plopping her down in today’s society. Nancy begins the movie solving a theft in her fictional town of River Heights, and then her father gets a new job offer and the two are off to Los Angeles – an environment that is the complete opposite of everything “Nancy Drew”. In doing this, the movie does a really good job of giving her a lot to work with. She’s in a new town, a new school, with new people, and she really stands out. She’s a fish out of water and that makes the character that much easier to relate to.

The character of Nancy Drew couldn’t have been more perfectly cast. Emma Roberts (Nickelodeon’s Unfabulous and the daughter of Eric Roberts and the niece of Julia Roberts. Yes, that Julia Roberts.) plays her role flawlessly. She’s poised and polished, yet a bit awkward, like a teenager should be. Her father, Carson, is played by Tate Donovan and he’s not in the movie much, but the chemistry between he and his film daughter is very clear. They have a sweet relationship. It was nice to see Rachel Leigh Cook in the movie, and there are some really great cameos by Jason Schwartzman, Chris Kattan, and Bruce Willis. Yes, that Bruce Willis. Nancy’s boyfriend Ned is played by Max Thieriot (The Pacifier, Jumper) and although the character is supposed to be somewhat subdued and let Nancy take charge, I really would have liked him to have more of a backbone. He’s a pushover. I do understand that this is only to highlight Nancy’s independence and that’s great. He just doesn’t make much of a romantic lead. Especially for a movie geared towards pre-teen girls who love to buy BOP magazine to put up the posters of the latest “hot guy”. This movie could have cashed in on that but it doesn’t.

Maybe this is the problem the movie ran into when it was released. It performed poorly at the box office, possibly because most pre-teens were going to see Hairspray (with Zac Efron) or staying at home watching the newly released High School Musical 2 (also with Zac Efron). Maybe it was bad timing? Maybe it was the perfect character that made them shy away from it? Who knows.

Watching this movie as an adult, it was entertaining and Nancy Drew was exactly who adults want their children to choose for a role model. But I tried to watch this movie through the eyes of a pre-teen girl. I tried to put myself back in the mindset I was in when I was that age. In that sense, I don’t think it succeeds.

Presented in Dolby Digital surround and with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the movie is really exciting to watch. The sounds of Nancy solving her mystery are creepy at times and help move the movie along. It’s a fun movie to watch in this aspect. The DVD also provides your choice of either full screen or widescreen formats.

Nancy Drew: Kids at Work – A 9 minute featurette about bringing the classic character of Nancy Drew to life and in the modern world, about the casting, and a little behind the scenes footage.

Mini-Featurettes:

Our Ipod Idolatry – Short interviews with the teenage cast members about what is on their ipods. 2:54

Nancy Drew’s Detective Kit – A quick tour of the props used by Emma Roberts in the movie. 1:42

Behind the Scene – This one shows the cast going through a few takes to perfect a scene. 1:29

Day on the Set -This one was really cute. Showed Emma Roberts in the makeup trailer goofing around with the cast and crew. 2:02

Emma’s Last Day – Not really Emma’s last day, but Emma’s Last Shot. Shows her going through the final scene that she shot before wrapping the film. 1:32

There is also a Gag Reel and a music video of the song from the soundtrack “Pretty Much Amazing” by Joanna.

The trailers on the DVD include: the straight-to-DVD release of A Dennis the Menace Christmas (an odd DVD to advertise on a movie released in March), the new Get Smart movie with Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway, the DVD release of Hairspray, and a commercial for the Nancy Drew soundtrack.

Nancy Drew is a movie that I enjoyed much more than I expected to, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. I’m not supposed to like this movie. I don’t think that it appealed to its target audience. The extras, however, were more on par with what the target audience would be interested in.

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Warner Home Video presents Nancy Drew. Directed by Andrew Fleming. Starring Emma Roberts, Tate Donovan, Rachel Leigh Cook. Running time: 99 minutes. Rated PG. Released on DVD: March 11, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.