Summary: A bit of an outsider struggling to fit into her new surroundings, Nancy and her pals set out to solve a mystery, make new friends, and establish their place in the community.
This will be a short review.
Sophia Lillis as Nancy Drew. She’s probably the best thing about the movie. I like Sophia Lillis and I didn’t dislike her Nancy but I didn’t quite like her either. She’s sassy but sometimes it’s not in a cute or endearing way, it’s almost smug and it almost makes you want to slap her. However, I like how she deduces things and how attentive she is. This is supposed to be her “origin” so she’s new to mysteries but she’s quick on the draw and she’s really brave. I probably would not do half the thing she does. I also wish they just allowed her hair to be curly because I think Sophia Lillis’ curls are beautiful and I hated that little straight, side swoop thing they kept doing. Just let it be curly.
It’s Good Fun. There is a good chunk of the film that is really fun when it’s not taking itself seriously. When Nancy gets involved with the mystery of Twin Elms, that’s when things start getting fun. There’s ghosts and supernatural things happening in this house and she just gets so excited that you get excited to watch her solve this mystery. She’s really good at it and you came for the mystery anyway, so when it’s focused on Nancy doing her thing, it’s good stuff.
Lots of Potential. I was never really into Nancy Drew so I don’t have any kind of nostalgia for her but I think this film had a potential that could have led itself to having just a tad more fun if it didn’t take itself so seriously. There could probably a nice little series of these films if they figure out the kind of tone they want.
First Half of the Film. It takes a moment for this movie to really get off the ground. The first few moments is just Nancy skateboarding in the middle of the street with a girl running around asking if anyone’s seen Nancy. Then we get this prank thing and THEN we get this horrible, horribly written scene with Nancy, her aunt and her dad and I rolled my eyes so hard. I thought if this the whole movie is like then… wow.
Cringe Dialogue. Some of the dialogue in this is really bad and a lot of the actors aren’t that good so that doesn’t help. The deputy guy, while earnest, just wasn’t that great lol and then Nancy’s friends and her aunt… just wow. Even Helen had some moments when she was overselling it. I don’t know if that’s because the actress is like 30 compared to these teenagers so she was trying really hard but if y’all make more of these, have some better dialogue. If some of this is lifted straight from the books, then update it because you can’t put Nancy Drew into 2019 but have her saying things from a book published in 1930.
Nancy’s Friends. I did not really like either of them until the end. Bess is supposed to be all awkward and ugly and stuff but of course she’s cute and then the way George treated Helen was way out of line. I mean, I get it, her boyfriend humiliated your friend but you are way out of pocket when she’s trying to help Nancy. I thought Nancy should have put them in their place, particularly George. They get better towards the end but that chemistry lab scene, I wanted it to end because I hated it.
The Tone. This movie feels like it’s taking itself too seriously but then at other times it’s really cheesy. There’s this whole thing about a train being built in this small town and people are taking it really seriously. One guy tries to run Nancy down on her skateboard just to threaten her dad. Then the whole prank thing with turning that guy blue, he’s all serious about it and so is his dad and I’m like… it was a prank, you literally cyberbullied a girl. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Nancy and her friends were wrong too, but you hit first lol. Then there’s the whole haunting thing and then there’s kidnappings and people have guns. It’s all over the place.
Overall, Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase is a bit of a clumsy film but Sophia Lillis is the star of the film in every aspect. She’s good as Nancy Drew, she has a balance of Nancy being annoying but also being kind of cool, updated and likable. She’s cute (and wow her eyes) and you’re into watching her solve the mystery. When the movie focuses on allowing her to do her thing, it’s fun to watch and you get a bit invested. It’s fun to watch and there’s a ton of potential in here, I think the movie could have been better with some better dialogue and if it figured out what kind of tone it wanted to have. The dialogue is really cringe and the acting does not help that. Nancy’s friends are annoying and I do not believe the sudden change of heart at the end because we never saw any other interaction outside of Nancy and Helen. Lastly, the first act of the film is horrible. It almost seems like a completely different movie. It should have started right with the mystery in the house. Way more interesting. In the end, Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircaseis clumsy but it’s fun and Sophia Lillis is why you should check it out.
Rating: 2.89 out of 5 stars.
Did you see Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase? If so, what are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments below!
The CW is releasing their version Nancy Drew, similar in tone to Riverdale. I’m probably going to check it out for science but if you want to see a slightly darker and more mature take on the classic character, check out the show on October 9, 2019 on the CW.
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