A long time ago, we used to be friends but I haven’t thought of you lately at all. As much as I like the trademark lyrics of the Veronica Mars theme song, I can’t say that I haven’t thought about the eponymous Miss Mars lately at all since I just re-watched the entire series in anticipation of the Veronica Mars movie. So that also (apart from being a big fan of the show) squashes my objectivity when weighing in on the inevitable debate over whether this movie can be enjoyed without having watched the show. It’s probably no surprise that I think that Veronica‘s made a wonderful leap to the big screen, but this partially Kickstarter, fanbase-funded movie is purely a love-letter back to fans. For that we thank everyone involved.
For those of you non-Marshmallows, allow me to set-up: Veronica Mars (played by Kristen Bell) is a now-grown-up teenage private investigator, having learned the tricks of the trade working with her dad, the former sheriff of Neptune (a town where the wealthy and not-so-wealthy gnash teeth at each other under the warm California sunshine). After escaping Neptune, Veronica is about to start a new life in New York with a job at a top law firm when the past (in the form of rich, son-of-a-movie-star, bad-boy, ex-boyfriend Logan) calls her for help. Logan is the prime suspect in the murder of a pop singer (who also happens to be one of their former classmates). He calls Veronica to come back to help him, and if that wasn’t enough incentive, the 10-year reunion she’d vowed not to attend is also happening. Seeing her friends and father again is no compensation as she gets sucked back into her old life. While this movie is using the typical tricks (and some unnecessarily contrived ones) to bring back its series cast, I’m sure that there are no fans out there who actually mind. I’ll just come right out and say that this is essentially a feature-length episode, but that’s exactly what we want. If show runner Rob Thomas had changed things (even the much-hyped idea of putting Veronica in the FBI), we’d probably be up in arms.
The point of this movie is to remind us of all the things we loved about the TV series: the smart dialogue, the clever characters, the adventures of Veronica (and whichever friend she’d managed to corral into being her sidekick) as she tracks down clues. The case itself has always been merely the skeleton on which to drape all the trappings that we enjoyed watching (though it’s got enough twists and surprises to be interesting). For those in the know, most of our favourite characters have been brought back. There’s obviously Logan (Jason Dohring), Piz (Chris Lowell), Veronica’s dad Keith (played wonderfully by Enrico Colantoni), Dick (Ryan Hansen), Gia (Krysten Ritter), Leo (Max Greenfield), Mac (Tina Majorino), Wallace (Percy Daggs III), Weevil (Francis Capra), and many other familiar faces. By bringing them back, and the actors who play them, there’s actually an interesting message about growing up. When these characters were in Neptune High School (and then Hearst College), they were a microcosm. However, seeing them all looking older but acting kind of the same, it’s hard not to reflect on how they’ve expanded the microcosm out into the world and yet the same high-school personalities, relationships, status, and stereotypes are in play. It makes me wonder whether people actually grow up at all. Anyway, I don’t want to make it seem like it’s a heavy, philosophical movie, but it made me think about that a bit.
In the end, it was similar to my experience with Serenity, the movie that brought cancelled TV series Firefly to the big screen (or what I imagine others experienced watching the two Sex and the City movies). It’s a cool thing to see your favourite characters and settings again and the movie takes it up a notch (though why they always feel the need to inject four-letter words into the script when they hit the big screen is beyond me). It brought some closure, and new beginnings (which you normally don’t see unless there’s another movie so it’s like the heroes riding off into the sunset). In this case, Veronica Mars is back in Neptune — it’s home to her, and so it really only makes sense for us to see her there and we’re glad that she’ll be there for when we think of her again (4.5 out of 5).
BTW, kudos to whoever decided to release the movie on iTunes the same day as in theatres. I enjoyed it from the comfort of my couch and I’d like more new releases like that, please!