A long time ago, we used to be friends with the sassiest teen sleuth since Nancy Drew, and her name was Veronica Mars. The latest cult-favorite returning from the dead (think: Firefly/Serenity), the original series ran on UPN/The CW from 2004-2007. After three seasons, a heap of murders, a horrifying bus crash and some major network meddling, the doors of Mars Investigations closed for good.
If you haven’t been living under a rock (or locked inside a closet like Meg’s sister), then surely you’ve heard about a wee little Kickstarter campaign that raised $5.7 million dollars to get Veronica back in action. Thanks to 91,585 die-hard fans (hey, I’m one of ‘em!), creator Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell got to write and produce a full-length feature film following the events of the TV series.
Veronica has truly left her stamp on the industry. Since then, others like Zach Braff and Spike Lee took to Kickstarter to raise funds for their next projects. The Internet is abuzz, wondering if the Veronica Mars movie is changing the rules for the future. If the movie is profitable, will Hollywood continue reaching out to the fans in order to fund smaller, cultier films for niche audiences? And should fans even have to keep ponying up the goods?
I won’t dive into the nitty-gritty here. Rather, I’d like to post my thoughts about the movie in an informal, non-review format. Let’s ramble:
Minor SPOILERS to follow. Don’t read on unless you’ve seen the movie!
It’s surreal to be sitting here discussing a Veronica Mars movie with you. Since the beginning of the Kickstarter campaign, I’ve been giddy at the prospects of seeing Kristen Bell and the rest of the cast back in action at their former stomping ground of Neptune, California. Seeing as they were working with their fans’ hard-earned money, I’ll start by saying this: Team Mars DELIVERED. So, thank you Rob Thomas, Kristen and the rest of the cast. Fans of the show see your passion for the series and it fuels our own.
A brief summary: We find Veronica living in New York City with Piz. She’s finished law school and is shopping around to find a new job and continue her new life. Logan calls. He’s being charged with murdering his pop-star girlfriend, Bonnie Deville, and surprise! He needs Veronica’s help. She agrees to fly home just to help him choose the right lawyer and nothing more, giving Veronica time to reunite with her pals Mac and Wallace, and get conned into attending the gang’s 10 year high school reunion.
Some may think that the 10 year reunion thing was a little contrived, but as Thomas stated, the film needed a reason to bring back all of the characters we’ve loved (and hated) in the past. I think the reunion served that purpose without sucking up too much of the film’s run-time. I loved seeing minor characters like Corny and Principal Clemmons, and watching Veronica finally knock the shit out of Madison Sinclair was worth every single penny that I handed over to them.
Another highlight was Ken Marino, back as the slimy private dick Vinnie Van Lowe, who was selling illegal footage of celebrities to whoever would pay the highest price. The film perfectly weaves in these older characters in ways that made sense to the story and made sense to our yearnings for nostalgia. Well done!
Overall, the story totally worked. Sure, it could feel like an overblown episode at times, but a murder equals some pretty high stakes, and once we found out that other characters were wrapped up in it (Gia Goodman! I absolutely love Krysten Ritter.), the story unfolded nicely, clues, scumbags, witty one-liners, and all. I was trying to keep my expectations in check while watching, but caught myself a couple of times thinking, “Wow! They are doing a fantastic job!” I really think any former fan will be beyond pleased. Will the movie appeal to fresh newbies just checking in? I’m not sure. But if a year full of intense media coverage, cast interviews, crazy Internet buzz, and more didn’t convince you to stop by Neptune already, well, I guess I don’t really care. It’s your complete and utter loss.
Things that didn’t really make sense for me: I was hoping for a brief Lily Kane cameo during the “Lost classmates” reel at the reunion. Sure, it could’ve been a little cheesy, but I wonder why Thomas opted against that. Also, the Celeste Kane cameo didn’t really have any traction. She shoots Weevil because she’s scared and then that’s it? I was completely shocked to see her and elated about it, but by film’s end I was wondering why they even bothered (Token Kane?).
I also could have gone for a longer final chase scene. After Veronica figures out who the killer is, she escapes danger rather quickly. It was very unlike the Season 1 final episode where she gets locked inside a refrigerator and set on fire. That was an intense finale full of struggle and emotion. Our heroine takes down this person pretty easily (maybe because she has experience now?), and I’m left wondering if that was just to save some time.
After everything is said and done, I can talk about this movie for days and days – and I’ve only seen it one time so far! From the cameos (the best ones are from non-Mars actors, but I won’t ruin those surprises here) and witty dialogue, to the relationships between characters and all that action (car crashes! injured loved ones! bitchslaps!), I couldn’t be any happier with how it all turned out.
Fingers crossed for a sequel, Marshmallows.
Grade: A….+ A++ Like, “I got a 4.3 GPA in college, A+”
If you’re still hungry for more, check out Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line. The story continues where the movie leaves off, and is written by Thomas and Jennifer Graham. The book hits stores on March 25 and is the first in an upcoming series of stories.