'Veronica Mars' Movie Review: A Fun Trip Down Memory Lane
Friday, March 14, 2014
One year ago Veronica Mars
creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell began a Kickstarter campaign
to let the fans fund a movie version of the beloved teen noir series. It
was massively successful and now the movie has arrived.
The Veronica Mars film is, quite literally, by the fans and for the fans. It might work for newbies thanks to an opening narration that establishes the premise and insanely clever writing, but that's not really the target demo. It's more of a love letter to the loyal Marshmallows whose obsession with the series has kept it alive seven years after it ended.
SPOILER WARNING: This review contains details about the plot of the film.
Veronica Mars takes place nine years after the series ended. The titular heroine (Bell) is living in New York with her boyfriend Piz (Chris Lowell) and interviewing for a job at a prestigious law firm. On the news she sees that pop star Bonnie DeVille has died. Who is Bonnie? That's the alias of Veronica's Neptune High classmate Carrie Bishop (Andrea Estella, replacing Leighton Meester who played the role in the series) and the prime suspect is her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring).
Veronica gets dragged back to try and help her ex on the same weekend as her 10-year high school reunion. She reconnects with her P.I. dad (Enrico Colantoni) and best friends Wallace and Mac (Percy Daggs III and Tina Majorino). And, of course, there's Logan's BFF and professional d-bag Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen, who effortlessly steals every scene he's in).
The actual murder mystery plays out much like an entire season of Veronica Mars the TV show compressed into two hours. There are clues, red herrings and it's a lot bigger than it first seems.
But the case itself is a MacGuffin, an excuse to bring Veronica back so she can go to her reunion and fans can relive the show. The film works as a series of one-off scenes where we get to see our favorite characters. Hey, it's Weevil! Hey, it's Vinnie Van Lowe! Hey, it's Principal Clemmons!
There's also a beautiful thematic element of Veronica's addiction, to Neptune, danger, investigating, Logan and anything else you can think of. That's really what the film is about, whether or not Veronica can escape old habits or if she'll fall off the wagon. Given her mother's alcoholism, the metaphor works perfectly.
Veronica Mars is enjoyable for what it is, though there are some rather obvious flaws. A much bigger conspiracy involving the corrupt town of Neptune is introduced, but never resolved, as if it's a set-up for a sequel. A shooting and a sudden tragic death, both involving beloved characters, are left open-ended and seem almost out-of-place in this movie.
Then there's the actual conclusion to the murder investigation in a scene that feels way too brief. Following Veronica's face-off with Aaron Echolls in the show's first season finale and Veronica's terrifying battle with the Hearst rapist in season 3, this final showdown lacks excitement. By the time it's over I thought to myself: "Wait, that's it?"
But there's so much good stuff that it's hard to complain. The fans wanted to see Veronica and company reunite, and that's what we got. Almost every character you might want to see is back, including the briefest of cameos who is involved with a shooting, though I won't spoil who that is. There's also a truly brilliant cameo by a famous actor as himself, complete with a hilarious mid-credits bonus scene. You'll also want to stick around for all of the credits for one last homage to the series.
In the end, the Veronica Mars movie is much like the 10-year high school reunion it features. It's great to see old friends you've lost touch with and remember the good times, but it's also not exactly how you remember it. Still, you're glad you came because, after all, a long time ago, we used to be friends.
(Image courtesy of Warner Bros)