Sunday, June 17, 2007

Nancy Drew

So I saw Nancy Drew this weekend (okay, opening night) and I had to break my "no posts till after Nashville" promise I made in my last post, cause it was just that good. There are certain critics and fans who did get all up in arms about the movie not being exactly like the book, which I consider a totally invalid criticism for an adaptation anyway -- it's a different medium, people -- but I have to admit I was mad at first because Emma Roberts has plain old brown hair, not titian hair and everyone knows Nancy has titian hair, goddam it. But then I managed to wrap my head around the fact that it's a new interpretation, and Nancy hasn't been around for almost eighty years by not keeping up with the times. The addition of sidekick Corky was a little weird, and I was kind of annoyed that Bess and George weren't in it at all -- then again, they weren't in some of the really early ones either -- but I got over it (the kid is pretty funny, actually). I recently re-read the Hidden Staircase, and Bess and George were nowhere to be seen.

At first I found the whole Hollywood slant is different, and somewhat inexplicable. I mean, why set it in Hollywood and not River Heights? So there are strange artistic choices that might disconcert a fan initially, but then once you think about it in terms of Nancy's revolution, it makes sense. If you're updating Nancy, what else would you do but bring her into a different mileu, a strange and modern one? It makes sense, and I think the idea of living in a haunted mansion with an old Hollywood mystery is a really fun idea. There's a crazy old butler/groundskeeper who's utterly devoted to the ghostly resident, giving it all a Sunset Blvd. kind of vibe.

Evolution, people.

Still, an adaptation should try to retain certain elements that made people love the book in the first place, and the film succeeded on this level, too. In this case, the writers managed to capture what I think the essence of Nancy would be -- not only the fearlessness for which she is known -- but also a certain earnest dorkiness that she exudes even in the books. Nancy really is genuine and sincere and kind of dweeby -- I mean, she's not tough or bad or slick or rebellious; she's earnest and a daddy's girl, and never gives it up to Ned (I mean, Nickerson keeps his knickers on, honestly) so I think it was they really pulled it off.

I actually ended up liking Emma Roberts' performance a lot more than I thought I would. There are some really cute line that she delivers in a high-pitched deadpan, and she manages to be such a smart, high-achieving kid you can't help but like her. It's a fun movie and I think the writers did right by Nancy and purists who complain about putting a little pop culture in their good old Nancy need to relax. After all, she's probably resistant to it anyway. I love how her father just wants her to be a normal teenager, and she can't quite get that going on. It's delightful to anyone who grew up nerdy -- that would be me, and, well, most everyone I know -- and I cannot express the sheer joy of watching Nancy trying not to sleuth and doing things like posing Ned and her friend as revolutionary war heroes for her oil painting. When her father asks her what she's doing she cheerily replies, "Just normal teenage things!" Trust me, this will resonate with you if you were every an sincerely nerdy teenager.

This movie gets total Spinster approval. We should all take our nieces to see this.

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