Tuesday, July 03, 2007

If You Love Nancy Like I Love Nancy. . .

. . . treat yourself to the new Nancy Drew movie. It’s a delight. The casting is wonderful. Emma Roberts is perfect as the intrepid, unflappable Nancy, and Tate Donovan and Max Thieriot are equally perfect as her father, Carson Drew, and her boyfriend, the long-suffering Ned. The mystery is compelling, with Nancy trying to solve the twenty-five-year-old murder of the glamorous movie star who used to live in the house she and her father rent while he’s on temporary assignment in L.A., and while Nancy fans may be disappointed that Bess, George, and Hannah only rate a small appearance at the beginning of the movie, her new friend Corky (played by Josh Flitter) is the perfect wise-cracking foil to Nancy’s single-minded, rule-following approach to crime solving.

The story, too, strikes the perfect balance between honoring the Nancy Drew tradition and having fun with—without making fun of—it. Nancy still sports her traditional look—knee socks, penny loafers, sweater sets, and lots and lots of plaid—but she looks great in it, and even fashionable in a totally Nancy way. She finds secret passageways, is always prepared with a flashlight and compass, and remains completely oblivious to any romantic notions Ned may have in mind. And no matter what she attempts, Nancy, as always, is better at it than anybody else. In math class she knows the answer to every question. In gym class, she outruns every other girl on the track, while remaining well-groomed and cheerful. In woodshop, while the other students construct roughly-hewn key holders, she builds a replica of Notre Dame Cathedral, appologizing to her teacher because she “only had time for twelve flying buttresses. In actuality, there are twenty-six.”

The movie is hilarious at times, with Nancy saying things like (when her father forbids her to do any more sleuthing): “I understand his concern. There was that whole hostage situation.” And (when the bad guys attempt to run her down with a car): “Usually when people try to kill me, it means I’m on to something.” And (when she finds a suspicious ticking mechanism in the back seat of her blue roadster): “Excuse me. I need to go defuse this bomb.”

I enjoyed every minute of this movie and hope there’s a sequel. Or even, dare I wish, a. . . series. I’ve loved Nancy Drew since my mom (who read Nancy when she was a girl) gave me The Hidden Staircase and The Bungalow Mystery for Christmas. No, wait. I didn’t just love Nancy; I wanted to be Nancy. I grew up in the 70s, at a time when girls were still being told they couldn’t do everything boys could do, and here was Nancy, proving them all wrong. Devouring Nancy Drew books was one of the things that first made me want to be—and think I could be—a writer.

And I’m seriously thinking about buying some knee socks, penny loafers, and a plaid headband.

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