After watching the postmodern teen-detective stars of Brick and Veronica Mars, reviving Nancy Drew, girl detective, might seem a redundant, backwards task. The trailers for this project appeared in line with those expectations, casting Nancy in what looked like a snarky, reductive fusion of The Brady Bunch Movie and Mean Girls: the '50s-style sleuth adrift in cynical modern (which is to say, imminently outdated) high school.
But Andrew Fleming's take on Nancy Drew turns out to be a snappy charmer. Though the film takes place in the present, Nancy's life could still be described by the MPAA tags on a trailer for a PG movie: mild peril, brief teen partying; she hasn't been glammed into 2007. But the film uses this mildness to its advantage, starting with the decision not to play Nancy's old-fashioned virtues -- lawful curiosity, modest fashions, and an unfailing politeness even in the face of peril -- for satire. That is not to say that Nancy (Emma Roberts, niece of Julia, son of Eric) isn't oblivious to modern life; she knows about iPods and laptops. She's just old-fashioned (she prefers vinyl and books), which makes her dedication to old-timey detecting (or "sleuthing," as she calls it) all the more individualistic, even touching, as well as sweetly funny.
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