**Spoilers Possible** I recently got the chance to see the new 2007 Nancy Drew movie starring Emma Roberts. I came away marveling that they managed to get it made. Unlike the absolute mess of the last attempt in 2002 (which seemed to have as much of a grasp of what people liked about Nancy Drew as the pitiful Dukes of Hazzard movie did about what people liked about that show), this one touched all the bases. I could have done without the subplot where Nancy has to deal with “normal” teenagers in LA, but I was amazed how little Hollywood managed to mess things up.
Nancy is the absolutely brilliant, super nice, supremely compotent, good at everything heroine we’ve always known. The world she lives in seems to be the one from the books with all the rules intact with the addition of cell phones and digital recorders. She makes her own clothes and they look fairly 1960s (“I like old things”). She wears penny loafers (“they’re practical”) and drives a little blue convertible. There’s a mysterious and gruff caretaker who may or may not be behind all the trouble. There’s a ghost who we think might be real, but turns out not to be. There’s a secret passage. Bess and George and Hannah Gruehen make brief appearances at the beginning and I wanted more of them. Best of all, in honor of Mildred Wirt Benson’s take on Nancy Drew, Nancy is trying to recover a lost will (hidden in a secret compartment) in order to restore a fortune to its rightful and good owner who has been unfairly kept from it by an evil man. Also, the theme of Nancy missing her mother while she was growing up was nicely handled (“my mother is always a mystery to me”).
On top of that there are some great cameos. Barry Bostwick, Bruce Willis, and Adam Goldberg were all perfect. I also liked the subplot about Ned and Nancy trying to figure out how the other one feels about them. Ned is deprived of one typical role as the muscle on the team, but trying to figure out Nancy and how she is dealing with her new life in California does give him something to do and despite what I’ve read in reviews I thought added to his personality and created some pretty funny reaction shots as he tries to figure what’s up with Corky.
Carson Drew seems to be a little more bumbling (not so smooth and is actually captured and stuffed in a trunk at one point) and he is a lot more concerned about Nancy than in the books. He always did seem a little unconcerned about what danger she might be in, except in very rare instances. It was sort of like he was in on the rules that nothing seriously bad could happen to Nancy or her main friends. It was always Hannah who worried and I think Hannah coming with them to California could have balanced this out a little better. Also, the actual danger Nancy was in was up a little from the books. However, that’s nitpicking, this movie is a great tribute to Nancy Drew. It was clearly put together by someone who loved Nancy Drew and really understood what people like about her. While there is some light comedy, it’s laughing with Nancy and never at her.
Please go and see this movie in the theater. We want Hollywood to be rewarded for making this type of movie, so they will make more.
Last Updated July 14 2018: I added my current signature block. I changed the formatting on Dukes of Hazzard to italics to match current formatting. I also added the photo.
Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+, LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.