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Nancy Drew: "Drew's Clues" Special Edition On-Demand Review

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Theatrical Release: June 15, 2007 / Running Time: 99 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Andrew Fleming

Cast: Emma Roberts (Nancy Drew), Josh Flitter (Corky), Max Thieriot (Ned Nickerson), Tate Donovan (Carson Drew), Rachael Leigh Cook (Jane Brighton), Barry Bostwick (Biedermeyer), Kelly Vitz (Trish), Daniella Monet (Inga), Caroline Aaron (Barbara Barbara), Marshall Bell (Leshing), Pat Carroll (Landlady)
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Nancy Drew, the feature film that was supposed to make Julia Roberts' niece Emma a movie star, was recently released to DVD. Inspired by the 78-year-old Stratemeyer Syndicate series of junior detective books,
the PG-rated mystery underperformed in theaters, was drubbed by critics, and took an unusual nine months to come to DVD.

Instead of final product, Warner Bros. sent us a press screener of Nancy Drew: Drew's Clues, a fullscreen/stereo presentation with bubbles of fun facts turning up throughout ( la VH1's hit late-'90s "Pop-Up Video" format). Available exclusively through digital outlets like Pay-Per-View and On-Demand, Drew's Clues is not the ideal way to first see the film. But, like the fact tracks occasionally found on DVD, it is mildly enriching for those who already like the movie (and are able to overlook not seeing it in 2.35:1 widescreen as intended).

The sound-accompanied tidbits that arise seem aimed at youngsters, with light revelations regarding stunts, props, actions, and leading lady Emma Roberts. Infrequently amusing and somewhat annoying (as when it adds onto a steady count of Nancy's dozens of outfits), Drew's Clues isn't worth going out of your way to experience if you weren't already planning to have a second viewing via a digital outlet.

On the Drew's Clues version of the movie, bright graphics appear on screen. Here, as Nancy (Emma Roberts) and her father (Tate Donovan) arrive at their new house in Los Angeles, the bubbles actually live up to their name. Drew's Clues keeps a running tally of Nancy's many retro chic outfits.

As for the movie itself, it's strictly middle-of-the-road fare; good for a few laughs, but too skewed towards girls aged 8-13 to do much for entire families. Adult viewers may be interested to see the familiar faces assembled: Tate Donovan plays Nancy's disapproving father;
supporting roles are held by Rachael Leigh Cook, Pat Carroll, and Barry Bostwick; and cameos are made by Adam Goldberg, "SNL" has-been Chris Kattan, Ocean's geek Eddie Jemison, and Bruce Willis. (Yes, Bruce Willis.)

Most of our time, however, is spent with insatiable teen sleuth Nancy, her new pal Corky (played by the ever-streetwise Josh Flitter), her hometown boyfriend Ned Nickerson (Max Thieriot, The Pacifier), and some snobby girl nemeses (Kelly Vitz, Daniella Monet). The plot relocates Nancy to Los Angeles, where a grand, opportune mystery involves a Hollywood starlet (though inconsistent in its depictions, the actress is loosely Audrey Hepburn-esque) who disappeared 25 years ago under strange circumstances. It's all just a few notches above "Hannah Montana" and plays out like the kid-friendly made-for-cable fare that Roberts is used to, having starred on Nickelodeon's three-season comedy "Unfabulous."

You could easily do a lot worse or a lot better than Nancy Drew, but if you're going to see it, DVD seems like the better bet (with dual viewing formats, some short featurettes, a music video, and gag reel) than the Drew's Clues version we received for review.

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Related Reviews:
The Cast of Nancy Drew:
Emma Roberts: Spymate | Max Thieriot: The Pacifier | Josh Flitter: The Greatest Game Ever Played License to Wed
Tate Donovan: Hercules | Pat Carroll: The Little Mermaid My Neighbor Totoro | Lindsay Sloane: Sabrina, The Teenage Witch: Season 2
Kelly Vitz: Sky High | Amy Bruckner: Phil of the Future: Gadgets & Gizmos Disney Channel Holiday | Kay Panabaker: Read It and Weep

2007 Live-Action Family Films: Bridge to Terabithia Martian Child The Game Plan The Last Mimzy Daddy Day Camp
Youth Television: Hannah Montana: One in a Million Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: Special Field Trip Edition High School Musical 2

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Reviewed March 19, 2008.

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