The latest venture into the world of Nancy Drew finds the perpetually teenaged amateur sleuth still living in River Heights, driving her beloved blue roadster and solving local mysteries with the help of her good friends, Bess, George and her ever dutiful boyfriend Ned Nickerson.
But while Nancy (played by Emma Roberts, niece of Julia) and the River Heights gang are still living life the same as they have for the past 50 years, the rest of the world has entered the age of computers and cell phones.
When Nancy's attorney dad Carson Drew (Tate Donovan, ("The O.C.") accepts a job in California, he brings Nancy with him to La La Land and enrolls her at the dreadful Hollywood High School where her penny loafers and wholesome can-do attitude clash dreadfully with the Ugg boots and practiced disdain of her classmates.
Not daunted, Nancy perseveres, investigating the mystery of the house where she and her father are staying, which was the scene of the brutal murder of a famous actress, Dehlia Draycott, some 25 years earlier.
Along the way Nancy captures the affections of a 12-year-old boy named Corky (Josh Flitter, "Phil of the Future") who follows her around relentlessly and earns the enmity and eventual friendship of his sister, 'cool girl' Inga (played by newcomer Daniella Monet) who envies her relationship with Ned (Max Thieriot, "The Astronaut Farmer")
Though Nancy's clothes might suggest an old-fashioned attitude, her independent nature and determination and resolve to solve the case no matter what the obstacles make her a role model for young girls today. The fact that her boyfriend understands and accepts that her work always comes first might be a little unrealistic but then again it is Hollywood.
Unlike previous incarnations of the character, Roberts' version of the Nancy Drew character is much more comical.
Nancy's over achieving nature is contrasted with the studied arrogance of her peers at every turn to decent comical effect. Though the pace of the film is a bit tedious and predictable, Roberts is the clear star and we can count on seeing much more of her in the future.
I recommend this film to women who grew up reading the Nancy Drew books and to their daughters, nieces and granddaughters who aren't yet infatuated with Bratz dolls and "Gossip Girl" books and can still appreciate the allure of Nancy Drew.
"Nancy Drew" is rated PG for mild violence, thematic elements and brief language. It has a running time of 1 hour and 38 minutes.