I was never a Nancy Drew fan as a child, so when the eponymous film, starring Emma Roberts, made its theatrical release last June I was happy to allow my mom (a Nancy Drew fan in her youth) to introduce my 11-year-old daughter to the girl detective. They both enjoyed it.
Last weekend I seized the opportunity (at long last) to become acquainted with Nancy Drew myself, via the newly released Nancy Drew DVD. Both the 11-year-old and my 10-year-old daughter joined me. It was the perfect movie for girls’ night in.
First of all, Emma Roberts is (in the opinion of a Nancy Drew ingénue) absolutely perfect in the role of the girl detective. She is convincingly smart, plucky and determined. She is also pretty, but not in a cookie-cutter cutout kind of way. Her big grin (not unlike her Aunt Julia’s) makes Nancy seem -- despite an unbelievably cool wardrobe and car, self-possession, and adherence to a strict code of personal ethics that would put most adults to shame -- like a real person. Both Emma and Nancy simultaneously present as both utterly extraordinary and convincingly real. Both are also pretty terrific role models in a milieu otherwise devoid of readily available examples.
But Nancy Drew offers a lot more than a good example. This film features mystery, intrigue, greed, car chases (within the legal speed limit), ghosts, kidnapping, suspense, unrequited love, requited love (the tender, sweet, kiss at the end is both appropriate and satisfying), as well as a good dose of silliness. It is not a scary movie, but it is one with which the girls and I enjoyed scaring ourselves. The ghostly element made for a delightfully frightening post-movie ascent (with lots of giggles and squeals) from the basement to our bedrooms upstairs.
Nancy Drew is rated PG, which I believe represents an example of the rating board getting it right. My five-year-old son would not have handled this film well; the girls and I agree, it would have scared and upset him. The 10 and 11-year-olds could probably have watched it without me, but readily admit they are glad we sat through it together. Most viewers aged 13 years and older would likely have no problem watching it on their own; in fact, it would be a great slumber party movie. I imagine it will replace Aquamarine as the Emma Roberts’ sleepover-movie-of-choice at our house, so I’m glad we now own a copy.
I thought I had passed the Nancy Drew years by, never to be bit by the girl detective bug. But some things, like Nancy’s penny loafers and plaids, never go out of style, and a class act is classic, no matter what its age.