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DoNotWant: Nancy Drew.

February 15, 2009

I remember Nancy Drew quite fondly from my childhood.  A series of gripping tales following a brilliant young detective as she pursued intriguing and frequently dangerous cases.  Invariably she would end up getting kidnapped, and would surreptitiously contact either the police or her dear ol’ dad (or, after the debut of Ned Nickerson, dear ol’ boyfriend) who would show up and save the day, after which the mystery would be lain out neatly and the perpetrators (usually a duo or trio of angry men) would be brought to justice.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was my favorite series for a large portion of my childhood.  With that in mind, I went into this movie in the hopes that it would at least live up to the standards of the book series.

Nope.

It ceased to look promising almost from the start.  Nancy Drew, famous young adult detective, has been mysteriously de-aged to 15.  Okay, no big deal; maybe she was doing work before the start of the series.  She puts  herself into mortal peril alternately chasing and running from a couple of thugs.  When she finally catches them, she… bribes them with a pastry.

Seriously.  Whenever Nancy can’t get something she wants, she bribes someone with one of Hannah Gruen’s absolutely FANTASTIC homemade pastries and gets whatever she needs.  The implication here is that Hannah is the only modern source of old-fashioned pastry, and like all the other old-fashioned things Nancy loves (clothes, phones, birthday invitations), it is FAR superior to any modern thing.  Yuh-huh.  Moving on.

Who should show up next but… Ned Nickerson!  That’s right; the guy that Nancy meets for the first time in Book #7 is now her teenage crush.  I can let this one side; I mean, for all I know the continuity of Nancy Drew is about as stable as that of most comic books.  I haven’t read past the original series, so I’m not really qualified to say.

Anyway, in the books their romance was pretty straight forward.  “I think you’re cute, you think I’m cute, let’s date!”  No such luck in the movie.  They obviously have crushes on each other, but it takes the intervention of a presumptious twelve-year-old to get them to notice.

Speaking of which: high point in the movie there.  Corky was basically the only enjoyable character, being the only character who broke the mold.  He’s a pudgy, flirtatious doofus who managed to get himself transferred to high school because there “wasn’t any action in junior high”.

And speaking of characters, rumor has it that Bess and George appear somewhere in this movie.  That would have been awesome, because these two are undoubtedly my favorite characters from the books.  Bess is a fun-loving, somewhat overweight, plucky young lass who is frequently seen fretting about her figure – not a message they wanted to send to the audience?  George, by contrast, is an athletic character who more than once has pwned the bad guys with her judo skillz.  She was the “Strong Female Character” before the archetype was cool.

But we don’t get these characters.  Instead, we get a couple of shallow, uber-conformist teenagers whom I’ve never even heard of and who are continually trying to get Nancy to “act normal” (and quit hanging out with Corky, with no success whatsoever).  Speaking of “normal”, the word is used and overused throughout the movie, much like a large anvil: Nancy’s father doesn’t approve of her sleuthing, so he wants her to be a “normal teenager”.  Everyone at the school Nancy goes to is “normal”.  The entire movie is about Nancy trying, and failing, to be “normal” – but of course it’s better that way.

Don’t get me wrong; I love spreading the message that weird people are cool, too.  The problem is that Nancy only barely fits the definition of “weird”.  She still wears makeup and uber-popular hairstyles.  The only things that set her apart are her love of detective work and her passion for old-fashioned things – and since the movie is set during the height of the old-fashion popularity revolution, the attempt to pass that off as “weird” just looks stupid.

Now let me take a moment to talk about CPR.

You do NOT use CPR on someone when they are choking.  You do NOT perform CPR on someone’s stomach.  CPR is to be used ONLY to restart a stopped heart.  For choking, you perform the Heimlich maneuver.  Shame on you, Nancy.  You should know better.

Anyway, this movie was epic failure from beginning to end (with, as I mentioned, the small exception of Corky).  Do Not Want.

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