Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase Review

Nancy Drew returns for another adventure but this time she ends up having to go to some great lengths to solve the mystery. It’s not her best appearance by a longshot to the point where she almost appears as an antagonist at some points. Definitely not the detective you want on your case. It’s a fun enough story though with a good amount of solid dialogue and good pacing to keep it going.

The movie starts with Nancy getting excited because a mansion is about to be turned into a hospital. This will be great for the community and the only catch is that the two elderly ladies who own the place have to keep living there for a little bit to make it official. A wrinkle occurs though when it becomes clear that someone doesn’t want the hospital to be built and wants to scare these ladies into leaving to the point that he even commits murder to get this across. Nancy realizes that leaving is not in the cards so she forges a suicide note and fixes up the crime scene so that the old ladies will be tricked into staying. She figures it’ll all end well as long as she can find the crooks first. Will she pull this off or has she just doomed these ladies for no good reason?

No matter how you slice it, Nancy definitely went too far here. You just can’t put them into danger like this without giving them a shot. Of course they wouldn’t have stayed in the house if they knew it was a murder but that’s not Nancy’s business. She has to let them make their own decisions, they are grownups after all. Nancy really took things into her own hands here and it was not a good idea. Then she also goes around blackmailing her friend Ted into going with her. She makes it clear that she will get him fired from his current job otherwise.

It’s hard to really root for Nancy as a hero here because she is so unhinged. She proves on multiple occasions that she doesn’t mind just running off and leaving Ted to fend for himself. He certainly didn’t ask for this and it was her idea so shouldn’t she be doing most of the work? Even near the end he has to be the one to stay in the basement and wait for the villain to arrive while she is taken away by her father so he has no back-up.

It’s easy to see why Ted is so fed up all the time. I dare say that Nancy has gotten even more bold in her attempts to get him on the case. At this point there is little that she won’t do in order to get her way and that should absolutely scare Ted. Ted is solid as always though. Ultimately he does help Nancy out and even if he doesn’t want to be here, he gives every task his 100% effort. Even when tings go sideways he never sells her out and he’s just a good guy. It’s just his bad luck that Nancy is always around to put him into some difficult situations.

Sure, Nancy does help out by the end and she has her detective moments so I don’t want it to sound like she’s not doing anything. Nancy does help, it’s just that her “the end justifies the means” approach gets real sketchy real fast. This time around her father Carson gets less of a role but at least we have Officer Tweedy to make up for it. He’s the kind of guy who never has time for the kids so he tends to miss out on a lot of clues and context. Usually you can only count on him to make the wrong calls at the wrong times. Very rarely will he actually get to help the crew out which is very unfortunate.

I like Tweedy’s confidence though even if it’s misplaced. He’s just that kind of character but he’s entertaining all the way through which is the important part. You can’t help but smile when he’s around. The leap in logic to arresting the two elderly women was a bit much though. Like seriously…you’re arresting those two? That has to be a low moment in his career because cmon now, that just doesn’t make sense.

The writing is good as always though and I always like the old school dialogue. The pacing is good and all of the scenes flow together. The movie is fairly short as it is so I suppose it’s not super impressive that the pacing is good but it’s still worth noting. On the whole it’s just a very low key mystery film that is entertaining all the way through. It’s not exactly a thrill a minute but there are still life or death stakes here and the villains absolutely meant business.

Partially because it’s so short and also because the story is basic, but there isn’t a whole lot more to say about this one. I don’t think it will end up being very memorable down the stretch either. I would have liked the series to have continued on for a while longer either way though because there’s just all kinds of stories you could do with Nancy and Ted. It could have had well over 10 films like Sherlock Holmes and it could have worked out. These bite sized adventures are perfect for constructing a lot of scenarios around the characters. I suppose it just wasn’t meant to be.

Overall, Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase is a pretty good movie. I would rank it lower than the others but they’re all rather close either way so it’s not like it’s a big gap or anything. There’s a good amount of replay value here and the movie doesn’t really make any mistakes. It’s a very by the books movie that is content at being a good watch. If you like an old fashioned mystery like this then I’d recommend checking this one out. That said, you may as well check out one of the others instead, there’s no real reason to jump to this one specifically. Maybe if Carson got to do more since I like his more professional take on things. He may have a lot of limits due to how the law works but he never lets it get him down.

Overall 7/10

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