I’m a Get a Clue girl, through and through. I remember how well this movie fit my personality when I watched it for the first time. I believe my family recorded it either on or shortly after its June premiere, and my sister and I watched it all the time! I turned 8 that summer and was a total girly-girl. Thanks to all my Lizzie McGuire viewing, I suddenly cared a lot more about how my hair and clothes looked. Get a Clue was equally fashion-forward, and how exciting to think that it debuted just a few months after Cadet Kelly! I won’t get into the Hilary Duff vs. Lindsay Lohan feud here, because I love them both! The truth is, they were equally impressive and worthy of admiration in my mind.
When Get a Clue joined the DCOM lineup, I’m sure most of us had already fallen in love with Lindsay via The Parent Trap (a Disney theatrical remake) and Life-Size (a Wonderful World of Disney TV movie). I had both of those on VHS! Lindsay starring in a Disney Channel Original Movie was such a smart move. It cemented her as a tween girl idol in every possible Disney entertainment setting — right before she did three more Disney films (all theatrical) in the next three consecutive years. I can’t help but marvel at all that on Get a Clue’s 20th anniversary. As for the DCOM itself, Get a Clue was written by Alana Sanko and directed by Maggie Greenwald. Lindsay Lohan is Lexy Gold, a wealthy girl who writes human interest stories (or gossip, as her little sister Taylor points out) for her school paper. Lexy’s dad is a New York journalist, and she loves to get his advice on sniffing out hard news. While her mom is out of town, Lexy’s world is turned upside down.
Normally, her life is pretty straightforward. She wakes up every morning to video calls with her best friend Jen — very high-tech for 2002 — and the girls help one other decide on outfits for school. Later in the movie, we see them on a Madison Avenue shopping spree. I had forgotten that not only are Lexy and Jen fashion queens; pretty much every girl at their school on the Upper East Side is stylish. When we first go to school with Jen and Lexy, everyone is gabbing about Lexy’s latest piece in The Daily Examiner on Mr. Walker and Ms. Dawson. Everyone except for Jack (Bug Hall from Little Rascals), who wouldn’t run her story in the school paper. Lexy overhears Ms. Dawson and Mr. Walker in an argument that afternoon, and Mr. Walker is missing the next day due to the visibility from Lexy’s article.
The rest of the movie is a search for clues in the case of this beloved teacher. Lexy, Jack, Jen, and Gabe (a passionate budding videographer) form a sleuthing quartet and uncover the truth: Mr. Walker was framed for embezzlement in the ’80s and is really named Nicholas Petrossian, formerly a young and successful banker. Jack discovers this after he and Lexy stop by Mr. Walker’s vacant home in Brooklyn and meet the “detective” who framed Nicholas. Here’s the incredible (unbelievable?) part: Lexy knows Meany isn’t a real detective because she sees that he’s wearing designer duds a detective supposedly couldn’t afford. Anyway, we learn that Jack also lives in Brooklyn, his mom is a nurse who makes lemon squares, his brother is in the navy, and Mr. Walker gave Jack his old computer (that’s how the hidden identity is discovered).
After locating Mr. Walker at his mother’s home, the four kids form a plan to expose the fraudulent detective Meany aka Grandville (played by Charles Shaughnessy) and clear Mr. Walker’s name. They wear classy black and white ensembles and stake out the Fairmark Hotel, where Mr. Walker is to meet Meany. No surprise that it’s an exciting chase which leads to the true culprit’s capture. We get a cute little kiss on the cheek from Lexy to Jack after he saves her from Meany’s snares.
As the case comes to a close, a simultaneous chase reveals that Mr. Walker once gave his coat to a homeless man, except that the homeless man was really a businessman undercover for an experiment. And finally, Meany/Grandville hid his embezzled $10,000,000 in a broach Mr. Walker’s mother wears. An investigation settles it: Mr. Walker is free to live his life and marry Ms. Dawson! The final scene is the end of the wedding, where we see that Lexy has evolved enough to want to go bowling and rent shoes other people have worn. “Get with the planet,” she tells Jen. What a 2002 saying. The film also has the perfect bookends, opening and closing with Simon and Milo’s “Get a Clue” song. They gave that music video a lot of airplay on Disney Channel! Such happy memories. It was a real treat to revisit this mystery DCOM, a fun New York adventure that I hope the cast is proud of to this day.