Veronica Mars might not win new fans but pleases faithful
Longtime fans of Veronica Mars, the TV show version, will find Veronica Mars, the movie, a glorious homecoming chock full of winking references and nods celebrating the cult series’ successful transition to the big screen.
Newcomers to the franchise will find the experience a bit less enjoyable — somewhat like joining a new school your senior year — as they struggle to understand the importance of every insider joke or why that person next to them is so giddy and squealing with each cameo. It’s a bit of a shame since the film makes for an entertaining standalone when the focus isn’t so squarely on a nostalgia kick.
The extra heaping of fan service is understandable considering this film in large part was actually paid for by the devoted fanbase.
In a then record-breaking Kickstarter campaign, more than 90,000 fans contributed $5.7 million to help finance the film, so it’s hard to knock Director/co-writer Rob Thomas for rewarding the faithful supporters with such special attention.
Through a helpful narration, Veronica (Kristen Bell, Frozen) brings us up to speed. Following the murder of her best friend, she became a teenage private eye aiding her father’s agency.
Now that she’s finished college and law school, Veronica’s ready to move on to the next phase of her life as an attorney with a New York law firm and enjoying her relationship with good guy Stosh ‘Piz’ Piznarski (Chris Lowell).
But just as Michael Corleone found out, even though Veronica thought she’s out, she just gets pulled back in to her hometown of Neptune as her ex-boyfriend Logan (Jason Dohring) is accused of murder and few believe his innocence given his bad boy past.
So naturally, Veronica decides to help Logan and reconnect with her pals Wallace (Percy Daggs III) and Mac (Tina Majorino), hang with her father (Enrico Colantoni) and exchange sharp one-liners with some old rivals like Madison Sinclair (Amanda Noret) and Gia Goodman (Krysten Ritter, She’s Out of My League).
The simple murder mystery plays out like an adult Scooby Doo episode (that’s a compliment) even to the point of telegraphing the culprit, yet Thomas and co-writer Diane Ruggiero make it endearing and entertaining throughout.
Shot under a $6 million budget, the film looks similar to a cable movie and less a typical big screen production, but this is a property that doesn’t need a glitzy, high-definition coating to succeed.
Mars’ strength is its cast and Bell is at her charming best here, proving a likable determined and funny lead in a role she’s clearly comfortable in. Her chemistry with Lowell and Dohring comes across as genuine and her scenes with Colantoni always seem to end too quickly.
If you loved the show this is a no-brainer, do whatever is necessary to see it opening weekend in the 291 theaters playing it. For the uninitiated, it’s enjoyable enough to see what the fuss is all about even if it will likely lead you to Netflix or other binge-viewing options for a marathon session afterwards.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Robert Voets/Warner Bros. Pictures