Critics' reactions were mixed, with the general thought of it being refreshing. The film grossed $30,666,930 worldwide on a $20 million budget.
Nancy Drew (Emma Roberts) and her widowed father, Carson Drew (Tate Donovan), temporarily move from their quaint hometown River Heights to California, where Carson has a temporary job, who encourages her to focus on living like a normal teenager. However, unbeknownst to Carson, Nancy chose their California house because of its famously unsolved mystery of the death of Dehlia Draycott. Nancy struggles to fit in at her new school, only befriending a younger boy, Corky (Josh Flitter). She wears 50's outfits and penny loafers. After discovering many clues, she begins sleuthing behind her dad's back. Nancy eventually finds Draycott's lost child, Jane Brighton (Rachael Leigh Cook), who turns out to be the sole beneficiary of Draycott's will, which has disappeared. Nancy contacts her father's business associate, Dashiel Biedermeyer (Barry Bostwick), the lawyer of the Draycott estate, to assist her with the case.
Meanwhile, as an early birthday present, Ned Nickerson (Max Thieriot) visits from River Heights. Corky becomes jealous of Nancy and Ned's close relationship and tries his best to get Nancy's attention. Nancy begins experiencing worsening attacks against her as she learns that someone does not want her to solve the case. One afternoon, a tearful Jane arrives on Nancy's doorstep and announces that her daughter has been taken away from her. While watching a Dehlia Draycott film, Nancy realizes that Draycott must have hidden her will in a prop from one of her movies. After retrieving it, Nancy is kidnapped by the villain's henchmen. Nancy escapes with the will but gets into a car crash. Her father arrives and demands to know what is going on. After explaining her sleuthing, Biedermeyer offers them a ride home so he can finalize the legacy to Jane.
Nancy concludes that Biedermeyer was Dehlia Draycott's supposed love who stands to lose money if the will goes to Jane. However, when he questions Nancy about the will, she manages to jump out of the car. She is caught by Biedermeyer who threatens her; when Nancy asks him why he killed Dehlia, he replies that Dehlia went crazy after she put Jane up for adoption, and wanted to leave to be with her caretaker Leshing, Jane's father. Nancy escapes, but is once again cornered. Leshing arrives and knocks the henchmen unconscious as Nancy reveals that she secretly recorded Biedermeyer's confession. While the police arrive to arrest Biedermeyer, Nancy reveals to Leshing that Jane is his daughter. The will is restored to Jane, who is able to get her daughter back and convert the Draycott mansion into a home for single mothers.
Back at River Heights, Nancy visits Ned as he repairs her car. Afterwards, Mr. Drew comes out to tell Nancy that she has a long-distance phone call for a new mystery in Scotland. She's just as cheerful as ever as she runs back into the house to learn of the new case.Emma Roberts as Nancy Drew
Josh Flitter as Corky Veinshtein
Max Thieriot as Ned Nickerson
Rachael Leigh Cook as Jane Brighton
Tate Donovan as Carson Drew
Marshall Bell as John Leshing
Laura Harring as Dehlia Draycott
Barry Bostwick as Dashiel Zachary Biedermeyer
Daniella Monet as Inga Veinshtein
Kelly Vitz as Trish
Caroline Aaron as Barbara Barbara
Adam Clark as Sgt. Billings
Pat Carroll as the Elderly Neighbour
Amy Bruckner as Bess Marvin
Kay Panabaker as George Fayne
Cliff Bemis as Chief McGinnis
Kaitlyn Van Item as Allie
Several well-known actors make uncredited guest appearances throughout the movie. Bruce Willis appears as himself, shooting a crime film in Los Angeles; Adam Goldberg plays Willis' director Andy; Chris Kattan plays one of the burglars Nancy catches in the opening sequence of the film; Lindsay Sloane plays a saleslady in a clothing boutique; Eddie Jemison appears as an adoption clerk; and Geraint Wyn Davies makes a brief appearance as a drama teacher.
Before Roberts was hired, actress Amanda Bynes was considered to portray Nancy, but her schedule prevented her from taking the role. The film was shot in 2006. At this point in time, Emma Roberts did not have her driver's license. Though she was in possession of a permit, by law she was unable to drive the roadster for the car chase scenes all by herself. The movie was filmed in several California cities, including South Pasadena, Los Angeles, Santa Clarita, Long Beach, La Canada Flintridge and Burbank.
Nancy's car in the film is a blue Nash Metropolitan convertible.
U.S. cable networks, such as ABC Family and Disney Channel, acquired the rights to the 2007 film version of Nancy Drew.
Nancy Drew was released on DVD on February 11, 2008.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a rating of 49%, with the site's consensuses reading, "Emma Roberts is bubbly and charming as Nancy Drew, the junior detective. But despite her best efforts, Nancy Drew still lacks excitement, surprise, and compelling secondary characters." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 53 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Plugged In said that "the film has all of the oversimplifications of a teen mystery novel with a little—but not enough—humorous self-awareness tossed in to make the story satisfying for adults". Opening at #7 in the U.S. box office, the film grossed $6,832,318 on its opening weekend and has since grossed $25,612,520 in the US and $5,054,410 overseas for a total $30,666,930 worldwide.
A novelization of the movie was written by Daniella Burr the year of the film's release and published by Simon Spotlight.
Nickelodeon Australian Kids' Choice Awards
2008 – Favorite Movie Star for Emma Roberts
2007 – Favorite Movie
Teen Choice Awards
2007 – Choice Movie Actress: Comedy for Emma Roberts
2007 – Choice Movie: Breakout Female for Emma Roberts
Young Artist Awards
2007 – Best Family Feature Film (Comedy or Drama)
2007 – Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actress for Emma Roberts
2007 – Best Performance in a Feature Film – Young Ensemble Cast for Emma Roberts, Josh Flitter, Amy Bruckner and Kay Panabaker
- "Come to California" (Matthew Sweet)
- "Perfect Misfit" (Liz Phair)
- "Kids in America" (The Donnas)
- "Pretty Much Amazing" (Joanna)
- "Looking for Clues" (Katie Melua)
- "Hey Nancy Drew" (Price)
- "Like a Star" (Corinne Bailey Rae)
- "Nice Day" (Persephone's Bees)
- "Blue Monday" (Flunk)
- "We Came to Party" (J-Kwon)
- "All I Need" (Cupid)
- "Party Tonight" (Bizarre)
- "When Did Your Heart Go Missing?" (Rooney)
- "DARE" (Gorillaz featuring Shaun Ryder)