Nancy Drew is a 2007 film adapting the books about the girl detective. In it, Nancy (Emma Roberts) and her father Carson (Tate Donovan) move to Los Angeles, where her 50s sensibilities clash with the modern style of her classmates. While trying to fit in, Nancy investigates a mystery that led her to pick this house in LA: it was once the home of Dehlia Draycott (Laura Harring), a murdered movie star who took some secrets of hers to the grave. With the help of her friends Ned Nickerson (Max Thieriot) and Corky Veinschtein (Josh Flitter), Nancy will stop at nothing to crack this case.
This film provides examples of:
- Ambiguous Time Period: River Heights and Nancy are seemingly completely unchanged since the 60s, but Los Angeles is clearly in the modern day. In addition, the glamorous movie starlet behind the case Nancy investigates in-film seems to have waltzed right out of the 1930s and 1940s, both in attitude, the films she starred in, and reason for dropping out of the public eye. But the age of her daughter means her career had to happen in the late 70s/early 80s at the earliest, which were a very, very different Hollywood, and the "scandal" wouldn't have been nearly such a big deal. It's made some speculate the entire film was originally meant to be a period piece.
- Clues suggests the starlet's career spanned from about 1960 to 1980 since we learn she had a twenty year career, and she died in 1981.
- And the Adventure Continues: Not long after Nancy moves back to River Heights, her dad tells her she has a phone call regarding "the Loch Ness monster, and some stolen diamonds."
- Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: Behold her wardrobe!◊ Nancy's old-fashioned clothes—straight out of the 60s, very Scooby-Doo—actually look really cute on her. A fashion designer she later meets agrees, and photographs her for their publication.
- Bumbling Dad: Nancy's dad Carson Drew, in stark contrast to the books, where he is a competent attorney who is supportive of Nancy's detective work. While they are close, he'd rather she just abandon sleuthing and stay normal.
- The Cameo: While in Hollywood Nancy comes across Bruce Willis, who is currently being filmed for a detective movie.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- Nancy receives a phone from her father for her birthday. Or not. It's actually from the villain, and used to track her. Later, it returns again when she uses it to record his Just Between You and Me.
- The movie Nancy watches of Draycott contains the clue as to where she hid her will.
- Chekhov's Skill: Nancy suggests a CPR class to the principal. We are led to believe the payoff was a prank where Inga convinced Corky to pretend to choke during a basketball game, but it actually culminates during the party scene, where she has to perform an emergency tracheotomy when a girl has a severe allergic reaction to the peanut crackers a guy she was making out with ate.
- Faking the Dead: Corky pretends to be choking to get Nancy to perform CPR on him. However, he starts giggling just before she does, blowing the act.
- Fish out of Water. How the film plays it. Nancy is a wholesome 1950s girl, all penny loafers and cup cakes, transported to cynical modern LA.
- Hollywood Law: Discussed by Nancy and an actor playing a detective on a TV series set in the 1950s (Bruce Willis in a cameo) who notes they have police in the show give Miranda warnings, which didn't come about until 1966.
- Honor Before Reason: Nancy will not drive over the posted speed limit, which is just one instance of her refusing to use the ends to justify the means. "It's important to judge the ends and judge the means independently, in order to do what's right."
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The cell phone Biedermeyer gave Nancy to let his henchmen track her is then used to record his confession.
- Indecisive Parody: The film teeters back and forth between making Nancy into an old-fashioned dork or the wisest of all girls.
- Instant Drama, Just Add Tracheotomy: Everyone at the Wild Teen Party gasps when Nancy performs an impromptu tracheotomy on an allergy victim, just off-camera.
- Jerkass: Dashiel Biedermeyer, the lawyer of the Draycott estate, who is pretty unhelpful to Nancy during her search for Dehlia Draycott's will. His very first scene has him ignoring her questions by pretending to have just gotten a phone call from his earpiece.
- Just Between You and Me: Biedermeyer reveals he was the one to kill Dehlia when he corners Nancy back at her house. Unfortunately for him, Nancy records his confession on her cell phone.
- Karma Houdini: Apparently the entire school thought it was hilarious for Trish and Inga to try and trick Nancy into giving CPR to someone who didn't need it.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The apparition of Delia telling Nancy where the revised will is could be explained as simply a dream after watching one of Delia's films, especially since Nancy was shown asleep before she appeared ... but bear in mind that before then Nancy didn't know if there was a will to find. From that point on, she does.
- My Secret Pregnancy: In-Universe. When examining photos of Draycott during her last year alive, Nancy notices that for several months she was photographed only from the chest up. She deduces from this that Draycott must have been pregnant.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Dehlia Draycott is a blatant expy of Natalie Wood — same kind of movie star career, same birth and death dates, same circumstances of death (found dead in the sea).
- Nobody Here but Us Statues: Nancy hides from some bad guys in a church by wearing a cloak and pretending to be one of the statues of saints.
- Oh, Crap!: When Nancy sees Biedermeyer's signature and realizes she's in the car with Dehlia's murderer.
- Outrun the Fireball: When Nancy finds a bomb in her car, she throws it down a manhole and leaps away. Aside from knocking her unconscious, she's fine the next day.
- Precocious Crush: Corky likes Nancy, and she keeps them at a Just Friends distance, but Ned's insecure enough to think she might reciprocate.Nancy: Ned, he's twelve.
- The Reveal: Biedermeyer is "Z", the mysterious associate Draycott wrote to. He murdered the actress because she left him out of her will.
- Red Herring: The creepy groundskeeper John Leshing is actually not the murderer but Dehlia's lover and Jane's father.
- Running Gag:
- Nancy bribing uncooperative middlemen with pastries.
- Ned fearing Nancy will fall for someone else.
- Shout-Out: The daughter of one of the women Nancy talks to is seen watching Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi
- Springtime for Hitler: Inga and Trish take Nancy to a clothing store in hopes that she'll be ridiculed for her old-fashioned style. The fashion expert there instead thinks Inga and Trish's clothes look tacky and mismatched and loves Nancy's vintage look, even photographing it for their magazine.
- Therapy Backfire: While not therapy-related, a similar situation happens with two girls when Inga takes Nancy into a clothes boutique to update her "retro" look:Inga: Hi? Obviously, someone here needs a little help with their look.Boutique Clerk: Oh. It's not that bad.Inga: Oh, please. It's a fashion teardown.Boutique Clerk: You have some nice pieces. They're just not really working together.Inga: Me? I was talking about her! (points to Nancy)Boutique Clerk: (to Inga) Oh, sorry. (to Nancy) Wow! Where did you get that dress?
- This Is Gonna Suck: Biedermeyer groans loudly when he hears his own recorded confession being played back to him.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Inga and Trish act much nicer to Nancy after the party, even taking her out shopping to improve her look and not as a ploy to get close to Ned. Towards the end, they happily show Nancy her pictures in the fashion magazine.
- Understatement: Nancy's reaction to someone trying to kill her? "It's so rude!"
- Victory Is Boring: Once the case is solved and the culprit arrested, Nancy sits at home, happy for Jane and Leshing but bored because now there's no mystery to occupy her. But not for long.
- Wham Line: This exchange as Nancy talks to her father on her new cellphone. Which turns out to actually be a tracking device.Nancy: Dad, I have to talk to you.
Carson: What number are you calling from?
Nancy: My cellphone. The one you gave me.
Carson: I didn't give you a cellphone.
(Nancy stops dead in her tracks)
- What Happened to the Mouse?: So who stole Nancy's shoes? What was the point of stealing them?
- Wild Teen Party: Nancy throws her birthday party which then turns into this (complete with police being called for the disturbance), until Trish collapses due to allergies and Nancy performs first aid on her. One thing to note is that Nancy's father congratulated her on the party because it's a sign of normalcy (for an average American teenage girl).
- You're Not My Type: Ned is worried Nancy will fall for someone else, telling he had a dream where she forgot about him for "the guy from Smallville" Her attempt to console him doesn't work.Nancy: Don't worry about that guy from Smallville. He's not my type.
Ned: You have a type?