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'Nancy Drew'

Everybody's favorite girl detective cutes up the screen in this strictly-for-kids exercise in updated nostalgia. Nancy's played by Emma Roberts (Julia's niece), and while she's not awful, the notion of plunking the '30s heroine down in present-day Los Angeles proves less amusing than it sounds. Nancy smiles perkily while searching for clues to a long-ago murder in a Hollywood Hills mansion her dad rents for the summer, and the joke seems to be that she remains socially clueless. But there's no tension or spark, largely because former child actor Andrew Fleming directs the picture as if set design could rescue the script. Routine, with a sky-high sugar quotient.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.
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