Clubland

Starring Emma Roberts, Rachael Leigh Cook. Directed by Andrew Fleming. .
Running Time: 99 minutes
Rated: Rated PG (mild violence, moderate themes, and brief coarse language).
This Nancy Drew, very, very together in Penny Loafers and sixties outfits, has impeccable manners, perfect enunciation and is very cool indeed. She is possessed of the attributes of all real detectives. Think, eye for detail, focus, courage, determination and small blue Roadster. In her town of River Heights, she is already a hero, working hand in glove with the local cops. She catches her criminals red handed, sweet talking them and plying them with her own special Blondie cakes packed away in her detective bag - something she has made herself - part Hermés and part 'Famous Five goes to Smugglers Cove'.

This film is a rewrite of the detective series 'Nancy Drew', popular since the 1930's, and hinged around an independent Nancy aged somewhere between 16 and 18, living a very active life: intelligent, athletic, artistic and a volunteer. In this film she works alone sporting her famous Quizzing Glass brooch, goes fearlessly where no man has gone before.

Nancy suddenly finds herself re-situated to the West Coast when her Lawyer father decides he needs to earn more money. She has promised him she will give up sleuthing. It is too dangerous. This is all very well but the house she has chosen has a mystery. Very Hollywood, all swirly staircases and spooky noises in the night, it is the site of a famous murder. Nancy has two challenges now. First is to somehow fit in with the gang at Hollywood High who, frankly, find her Penny Loafers and neat lunchbox too weird and, second, to deal with the murky Hollywood underworld in which she becomes entangled.

The film is great fun. Nancy definitely has what it takes. She hands out personal invitations to her party, meeting each sneer with a sincere smile, flashlights her way down dark tunnels and, sitting up in bed in ironed pyjamas and with Apple Mac, manages ghosts and investigation in equal measure. Not only does she overcome the big, bad and ugly thugs who want to blow up her Roadster and then mash it off the road with their Four-Wheel Drive, she also manages duelling boy friends. However, it must be said, Penny is more detective than vamp. The boy friends are of the hand-bag variety. One is very 'cute'; the other, like an irritating little brother. They both adore her and they both get in the way.

She also has to give her father a fair bit of guidance. 'We have enough money already' she tells him when he explains their move West. She turns out to be very right. But on the big things they agree. She is brought up to do the 'right thing'. Like so many Fiction children of Lawyers she has caught onto the fight for justice big time. She speaks her piece to the Headmaster at Hollywood High and expects the Law Enforcement Agencies to respond to every crime no matter how small. Her fight for justice results in their Hollywood house being returned to its legitimate owner. At the end, the camera pans out from its front garden, awash with happy children. It is now a Home for Single Mothers.

Warner Brothers
Out June 21 Qld, June 29 NSW/VIC, 5 July WA/SA


Jenny MacMillan is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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