- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 17, 2007

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving the entertainment lives of families, provides reviews of the latest movies from a parenting perspective. For more

reviews, click on www.common sensemedia.org.

Nancy Drew

Rating: PG for mild violence, thematic elements and brief language.

Common Sense Media: On. For ages 8 and older.

… (out of five stars)

Running time: 99 minutes

Common Sense review: “Nancy Drew,” updated by director Andrew Fleming in the form of perky Emma Roberts, is equal parts goody-two-shoes and intuitive investigator. As the throwback “sleuth,” Miss Roberts is an excellent role model for obedience and good citizenship, but a certain oomph is missing in this modernized take on the teen detective.

Nancy and her dad, Carson (Tate Donovan), leave their Midwestern hometown of River Heights for Los Angeles, where they stay in a mysterious mansion in which a beautiful Hollywood star named Dehlia Draycott (Laura Elena Harring) wound up dead.

Nancy has promised her dad that instead of sleuthing, she’ll try to be “normal” — if that’s possible in 2007 for an 18-year-old who wears penny loafers and twin sets to a Hollywood high school.

Eventually, she can’t help herself, and she starts digging away at the circumstances surrounding Dehlia’s death.

With the aid of an obnoxious, adoring 12-year-old freshman named Corky (Josh Flitter), her low-tech detective kit, her signature blue roadster and her cute but completely-uncharismatic (boy)friend Ned (Max Thieriot), Nancy has everything a girl needs to solve a 25-year-old mystery.

The bigger puzzle is how Miss Roberts — who stars in her own Nickelodeon show, “Unfabulous,” and is Julia Roberts’ niece — fails to make Nancy as vibrant and endearing as she was on the page. Sure, she’s sweet, and she proves that girls don’t need guys to save them from peril, but her adolescent Sherlock Holmes isn’t engaging enough to merit another movie mystery.

Common Sense note: Parents need to know that the big-screen Nancy Drew is very retro and straight-laced. Although she’s being marketed to older ‘tweens and young teens, even slightly younger children will enjoy the teenage sleuth’s harmless action. There are a few “good scary” moments (a face pops up in a dark room) and even though Nancy is forced to flee from armed henchmen and even is held at gunpoint, it never really seems that she is likely to be the victim of anything. It’s worth noting that there are several prominent product placements, mostly computer- and Internet-related.

Families can talk about what makes Nancy a good role model for ‘tween and teen girls. How does she compare to other movie characters — or real-life “role models” such as Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton? Why did the other girls in the movie make fun of Nancy? What made them change their minds? During the movie, Nancy realizes doing the “right” thing conflicts with her father’s rules. Is it sometimes OK to disobey your parents if it’s for the greater good? Last but not least, fans of the Nancy Drew books can weigh in on whether they think the movie stayed true to the novels. Which do they like better, and why?

Sexual content: One brief kiss; two girls wear tight outfits and flirt with Ned; Corky hits on Nancy.

Language alert: Fairly mild language and insults.

Violence alert: Nancy is nearly killed a few times — first in a car chase and later at gunpoint by a bad guy and his henchmen. Men are hit over the head with a shovel.

Social-behavior alert: Nancy is a great role model for girls. She’s fearless, smart and conscientious. She’s also a really good teen — except when it comes to her father’s request that she stop sleuthing.

Drug/alcohol/tobacco alert: There’s a rowdy high school party, but no one seems to be drinking — just dancing and carrying on.