You know the saying “put your money where your mouth is”? Veronica Mars fans certainly did. When the show was cancelled in 2007, there was the expected outpouring of disappointment, like when anything that is popular with fans is abruptly cut off. The network that cancelled the show didn’t listen and it seemed the cult hit, about a high-school student turned detective in the small town of Neptune, California, was done for good. Then in 2013, creator Rob Thomas offered hope in the form of a Veronica Mars movie and a Kickstarter campaign to fund it. This is when the fans showed their support in the form of cold hard cash. The campaign made Kickstarter history by crossing 2 million dollars in contributions on the first day. The campaign ended with a total collection of 5.7 million dollars. It was time to make a movie.
And what a movie it is.
Veronica Mars is not your average TV heroine and ‘teen noir’ is a hard tone to get right, especially when it is now 7 years later, Veronica is no longer a teenager and has been living away from the small town of Neptune where all the weird and wonderful characters that also made the show so watchable still live. Yet somehow – with great amounts of effort I’m sure – creator Rob Thomas engineers it so that the movie hits the ground running. The story and characters settle into the familiar old rhythm immediately, and yet it feels updated. Veronica is older and wiser and Neptune is dirtier and more corrupt. When the two meet you know it’s going to get crazy and be a fun ride all the way.
Veronica (Kristen Bell) returns to Neptune to help her old boyfriend Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) who she thinks has been falsely implicated in a murder. She is on the verge of landing a job at a top law firm in New York and her father Keith (Enrico Colantoni) insists she keep her nose out of things so she can start a new life away from the darkness of Neptune. Throw in a high school reunion, old friends Mac (Tina Majorino) and Wallace (Percy Daggs III), rich socialite classmates Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen) and Gia Goodman (Krysten Ritter), the old guard from the Sheriff’s department, Deputy Leo D’Amato (Max Greenfield) and the new Sheriff Dan Lamb (Jerry O’Connell) and you have a situation that Veronica just can’t stay away from. Trouble soon follows and watching Ms. Mars outsmart her way out of it is a beautiful thing.
Final Analysis: In the Making Of The Movie special featurette, the entire cast and crew of the film repeatedly state that this was a movie made keeping the fans in mind. The intention is noble and in this rare case they have actually succeeded in creating a very satisfactory yet new experience for the fans. This is not a tacky, nostalgia-ridden effort, it is a seamless continuation of everything that made the show so enjoyable to watch in the first place – the comebacks are snappy, the relationships are complex, and the mystery is the engine that moves the story along. Oh yeah, and look out for the first appearance of the song from the TV show’s title track.
My advice: Watch this one right now whether you’re a long-time fan or a newbie. I’m hoping for a sequel or two.