Saw a commercial for the upcoming Nancy Drew movie. Apparently they don’t think they can sell the character as a teenage detective. They’re selling her as a makeover story, pulling the same fish-out-of-water concept used for the Brady Bunch films.

Admittedly I haven’t read the books, but I did go through a phase as a teen when I read all the Hardy Boys books I could find, including crossovers between the two series. The then-current books weren’t all set in the 1920s, and they weren’t about the title characters being anachronisms. They were updated for modern audiences. Modern techniques. Modern equipment. I remember one book in which Frank and Joe end up training for a mission on the space shuttle.

Logically, Nancy Drew should be enmeshed in the world of cell phones, bugs, web research, and spy cameras. Veronica Mars without the angst. Making her an old-fashioned fixer-upper is missing the point of the character, and turns her into a metatextual parody of herself.

But then, if VM’s ratings and cancellation are anything to go by, today’s audiences don’t actually want to see a story about a modern teenage girl detective. And makeovers, extreme or otherwise, are what’s popular.

2 thoughts on “Nancy Drew a Blank

  1. Nancy Drew was never the noir genius of Veronica Mars, and I think that the decision to go retro was not so much a choice of fashionable audience over intelligence as of likely Nancy Drew demographics.

    The writers know they are counting on previous generations’ nostalgia in order to sell Nancy Drew to the text message generation. Case in point, I wanted to take my niece, she didn’t specifically ask to go. And as you can see in the trailers, retro, much more than in the Brady Bunch, gets kudos for belonging to a kinder classier world. Nancy’s style of dress, while deplored by her peers, gets a thumbs up from Rodeo Drive.

    So I’d say from what I’ve seen, it’s different than the constant dumbing down pressure we saw on VM. The target audience isn’t the oh-so-holy 18-25 demographic. This film is another small-town-girl-can-teach-the-big-city-a-lesson and look cute in the process, a plot appealing to the soccer mom demo of at least 30 states and they are the most likely people to take a pre-teen girl to the movies.

    Gadgets and serious plot lines would have been cool, but would have been a risk of alienating the base on a chance of surviving against other larger summer blockbusters. If you could see only one film this summer would it ever be Nancy Drew?

  2. I thought it was an odd way to go, as well.

    I’m not sure I would’ve gone to see a more faithful version, but I certainly have no interest in this take.

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