It’s easy to find commentary about the one-note nature of summer films. Doesn’t take a think tank to understand that May through July are given over to sixteen year old boys, with the occasional nod to 30-year old boys through a film like Ocean’s Thirteen. Counter-programming is an easy way for a studio to make a few bucks on a small-budget picture and look as if they’re branching out at the same time. So this week Warner Brothers is coughing up Nancy Drew, an after-school special with a Bruce Willis cameo*, in hopes of grabbing some dollars from young girls and their nostalgic mothers/aunts/grandparents.
Nancy Drew has gone through a lot of changes since she first appeared in 1930. Born into the loving embrace of a publishing syndicate, outlined and authored by a procession of writers under the pen name Carolyn Keene, the teen sleuth became an icon for young girls.
With a spirit of revision
Not that the original books were any great shakes in the morality
or example setting departments. Nancy Drew is wealthy and entitled, and guises
her intrusions behind the aegis of ‘doing the right thing’. So it goes here. Emma
Roberts, neice of Julia, almost has the precise lack of guile to sell
This version deviates farther than any rewrite to date by
Once in Hollywood, Nancy promises to stop sleuthing; her father wants her to become more 'normal'. But she'd already arranged for them to rent a house supposedly haunted by the ghost of movie star Dehlia Draycott. (Laura Harring, looking a lot like Catherine Zeta Jones in her flashbacks.)
As in every other story I’ve been able to find a synopsis
The worst example of that approach is a trio of awful teens that pollute every scene in which they appear. Josh Flitter (soon to be seen alongside master hack Robin Williams in License To Wed) is consistently unbearable as Corky, the self-appointed sidekick who struts like a wiseguy and loudly wonders what’s going on in the movie around him. He’s like Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz brought dumbly and frighteningly to life.
Furthermore, Corky’s sister and her best friend (I happily can’t remember the character names nor the actresses responsible, and have no interest in looking them up) are shoehorned into the movie to demonstrate to young girls that you can safely ignore the cries of ignorant social harpies so long as you’re wealthy enough to dress really well and live in a cool rented mansion. In the process they dress as if they were standing next to the Olson twins when Ashley finally ate a sandwich, causing her body to explosively rebel and Mary Kate to go super-nova in sympathetic resonance.
Characters like these, along with the people
4 out of 10
*Oh, right, the Willis cameo. Nancy stumbles onto a film set, where she quickly schools the bumbling director (Adam Goldberg), to Bruce's amusement. It would be less ironic if you didn't feel as if Fleming was commenting on his own filmmaking process.