Our favorite Marshmallow sleuth is back. Veronica Mars, that is, and she is jumping from the small screen to the big one in the theatrical incarnation of her namesake: "Veronica Mars."
Unless you’ve been hiding under the hellmouth of Neptune, CA., you know that the Kickstarter for a Veronica Mars movie headed by creator Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell herself was the quickest funded project in Kickstarter history. It also made three million more than requested.
The result is a fan-funded passion project that brings back almost the entire cast of the "Veronica Mars" TV show that ran from 2004-2007 on UPN/CW. The show centered around a teenager named Veronica who learns how to be a private investigator from her former Sheriff father. When her best friend is killed and the dead girl’s boyfriend, Logan Echolls, is accused of doing the deed, Veronica sets out to find the truth. Along the way she uncovers a lot of unsettling things about her town and, consequently, the next three years take their toll. By the end of the series Veronica was ready to call it quits, and the final shot of the series’ finale had Veronica walking away from Mars Investigations in the rain.
Cut to nine years later: Veronica has graduated law school and is looking for a job in the Big Apple. She is living with her college sweetheart Piz (Chris Lowell) and clearly doesn’t go home that often. But when an old high-school peer turned pop star is found dead, old flame Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) is once again accused of murder. Much to the chagrin of Piz, she feels the need to help him out. So, off to Neptune she goes, where she finds out you certainly can go home again... you just might not want to.
While helping Logan find a lawyer, Veronica starts to unravel a bigger mystery which causes her to make the choice to stay. Again, this makes current boyfriend unhappy. It also cements her connection to Logan, and feelings begin to resurface. In addition, she runs into her old friends Mac (Tina Majorino), Wallace (Percy Daggs III), and Weevil (Francis Capra), among many others who end up dragging her to a perfectly timed ten year class reunion.
But, in tried and true Veronica Mars fashion, the mystery is never what it seems and Veronica always knows how to get stuck in the middle of it.
Fans of the show are going to be in heaven here. Not just because of Kristen Bell’s return to a beloved character, but because they get to see all their old favorites and see how they’ve changed (or not changed.)
Written by series creator Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggerio, who also wrote on the show, the film has all the zip and fun of the original maintaining the trademark snarky wit and convoluted mysteries. There are a few plot conveniences here and there, and some clunky expositional moments, but it still goes down easy. To be fair, this does just seem like a bigger budgeted, extended episode of the series, but quite frankly -- who cares? It’s funny, there are some amazing cameos (James Franco wins again) and Bell does what Bell does best. Occasionally the editing stumbles, killing a good line or two with what appears to be a hold for a laugh or an awkward fade to commercial, but it’s nothing ultimately too distracting. Most fans probably won’t even notice.
However, that could be the issue here. This is a film by the fans and for the fans. While the filmmakers spend the first five minutes of the film recapping the TV show, most of the in-jokes won’t be understood by a general audience member. While they might get into the story and find charm in the performances, I’m not sure how much it will stick with them.
As a fan of the show (and an admitted Kickstarter backer) I enjoyed every moment. It still felt fresh and clever and I enjoyed how it all unfolded. I laughed a lot and jumped out of my seat a few times. And you know what? Sometimes that’s good enough.
I would urge people that haven’t seen the "Veronica Mars" TV show to still check it out for the writing and Bell’s now-iconic character. It still works, just on a different level from the fans.