Film: Veronica Mars
Written by Rob Thomas & Diane Ruggiero; Directed by Rob Thomas
Studio: Warner Bros.
The Kickstarter that launched a thousand Kickstarters is now in theaters: The Veronica Mars movie continues the ongoing saga that is the life of Veronica Mars. The TV series from which it’s based may have ended in 2007, but fans of the show have been clamoring for more of Veronica ever since. And, with funding and a guaranteed audience secured via Kickstarter, creator Rob Thomas (along with screenwriter Diane Ruggiero) was finally able to go forward with a feature film continuation of the beloved series.
It’s been nine years since our title character wrapped up her first year of college with a scandalous sex tape and an ex-boyfriend beating up her current boyfriend, and a lot has happened in those nine years. Veronica (Kristen Bell), a former teenage private investigator, has given up her old life to pursue a career in law. She now resides in New York City with longtime boyfriend Piz (Chris Lowell), and spends most of her time trying to forget about her old life.
But her old life seems to be the one thing she can’t escape. Her infamous ex-boyfriend Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) is making headlines as the number one suspect in the death of pop star Bonnie DeVille (formerly known as Carrie Bishop — played by Andrea Estella in the film), his ex-girlfriend. Naturally, he calls up Veronica to request her help in proving his innocence, despite the fact that they haven’t spoken once in those nine long years. And, just like that, Veronica gets sucked back into the world of Neptune, California.
The murder mystery takes up much of the film, making it feel like an extended episode of the TV series. While it’s great seeing Veronica back in action as that spunky, snarky sleuth, the mystery hardly feels groundbreaking (you can guess most of the plot twists faster than Veronica does), although it does build to a heart-pumping climax (akin to that incident with the rapist in season three). But then the mystery is just a pretext for the larger story about Veronica Mars, an addict.
Her addiction? Solving crimes. Neptune is the bar, and Logan’s case is the shot of whiskey sitting in front of her. Apparently all those years of investigating crimes back in high school and college were more than just fun (often dangerous fun, sure, but fun nonetheless). Sometime after that sex tape leaked and she uncovered that secret society, Veronica realized that she had a major addiction to sleuthing and quit it cold turkey — new school, new career path, safe noncriminal boyfriend. Thomas uses the film to show Veronica slowly falling off the wagon, returning to the dark side.
And Veronica Mars is one dark movie. Between the overarching addiction motif and the increasingly dangerous case, the screenwriters never play it safe. Neptune, too, has grown a lot darker. The town has become a dystopia run by a fully corrupt police department, headed by the bumbling and malicious Sheriff Dan Lamb (Jerry O’Connell) — yes, the brother of former Sheriff Don Lamb. All of which give the film a much darker edge that was greatly lacking in series’ final season (not that that was Thomas’ fault).
But that doesn’t mean the film isn’t without its light-hearted, quippy moments. Fans of the show can revel in the myriad allusions to the TV series, along with the random cameos by characters from the series and famous faces linked to Thomas and Bell. They can also enjoy reuniting with Veronica’s longtime pals like Wallace (Percy Daggs III), who is now a teacher and coach at Neptune High; Mac (Tina Majorino) who is a sellout working for Kane Software and sporting a Miley hairdo; and Weevil (Francis Capra) who has cleaned up his act and started a beautiful family.
Regardless of how you feel about Thomas’ take on Veronica’s world (and how he handles that Veronica-Logan-Piz love triangle), the Veronica Mars movie is a solid film that also works as a reboot for the characters. And you don’t have to wait long for more of Veronica, thanks to the recent release of a Veronica Mars novel that picks up where the film left off (and there are more books on the way!). Plus, there’s always TV’s new savior, Netflix, which could potentially pick up the brand for a new season. And Hollywood does love a sequel.