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Veronica Mars Review: It’s Good To Be Back
For those who haven’t heard of it, Veronica Mars was a TV series from the earlier part of last decade that followed Kristen Bell as the titular teen detective who found herself a social pariah after her best friend was murdered and the killer never found. Over the course of three seasons, Veronica manages to claw her way out of social hell, solve her best friend’s murder (along with countless other mysteries that popped up in her hometown of Neptune) and eventually earn her detective’s license and move on to college. The show was eventually cancelled but its cult following kept the series alive long enough for a full movie to be made through Kickstarter.
The fan-funded movie picks up nine years after the show’s third season, with Veronica living in New York with college boyfriend Piz (Chris Lowell). She’s about to hit her first big break at one of the city’s most prestigious law firms when she’s called back to her hometown of Neptune to help her old flame Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) when he is framed for the murder of his celebrity girlfriend. From there it isn’t long before the show is back to its old tricks and Veronica finds herself back among both old friends and foes through a conveniently-timed high school reunion. The delight of seeing these actors and characters reunite was definitely the highlight of the film and Kristen Bell manages to slip right back into Veronica’s shoes here – firing sassy line after sassy line at the film’s many returning actors as well as a few fun guest stars.
She’s not all bite though. The relationship between Veronica and her father was always the heart of the show and the same applies here, with scenes between the pair nailing both some of the movies funniest moments and some of its most emotionally intense ones. The scene where he bails her out of jail is one of the movie’s funniest scenes and Enrico Colantoni plays his role just as well as he did on the show.
When the show was on air it always did a remarkably good job of representing modern technologies and the movie handles this just as well with the script making plenty of nods to Twitter, Facebook, Etsy and even a sly dig at Kickstarter itself. There’s also countless Easter eggs in the script for Veronica Mars fans that reference everything from Season 3’s sex tape to the aborted Veronica Mars FBI series. While director and creator Rob Thomas did a good job of recreating the visual style of Veronica Mars, he did strip back on some of the series later Noir aesthetiics. Overall, the movie flowed from scene to scene really well and did a great job of combining the fan-service of revisiting characters from the show with plot development by tying everyone into some aspect of the greater mystery.
I particularly loved the way that the movie nicely translated the roles of the cast over into their new lives. Wallace’s position as a gym teacher offers him the chance to go through student files just as easily as he could back in the earlier seasons of the show which was a nice evolution of his role in the story. It did feel like there was a lot more of Wallace (Peter Daggs III) than Veronica’s other accomplice, Mac – but that’s more or less in line with the way that the series was so there’s not really a major issue there. It was also fun to see characters like Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansan) and Eli Navarro (Francis Capra) make a welcome reappearance.
One of the bigger ideas that the movie explores is that Veronica’s crime-solving shenanigans are her drug of choice and the constant threat of her involvement in the case destroying the life with Piz she’s built in New York is constantly emphasized. This wasn’t the film’s only thematic focus, the long-term struggle between the upper and lower classes in Neptune also got some significant screen time – although admittedly not as much as the former thematic thread.
There were plenty of old faces making cameos throughout the film, but there were also a few new characters who make a good entrance into the series mythology (as well as one particularly brilliant cameo that’s too good to spoil). Gabby Hoffman’s Ruby Jetson brings a lot of fun to the story and Neptune’s new sheriff Dan Lamb (played by Jerry O’Connell) absolutely nails it as the character you love to hate.
It’s also worth mentioning that I felt like the movie’s final showdown absolutely nailed the same kind of intensity that closed out earlier seasons of the show. That said, it was an absolute delight to revisit this kind of nail-biting tension with a Veronica who can has a lot more physical presence than she did back then.
Veronica Mars gives fans of the series exactly what they needed – a last hurrah for the series and a victory tour of Neptune for Veronica and the rest of the cast. Veronica Mars isn’t trying to be a masterpiece of cinema (although it is still a fun and great movie), it’s ultimately a film that exists to sate the desire of the fans, and in this aspect it succeeds overwhelmingly.