Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Rob Thomas
Writer: Rob Thomas, Diane Ruggiero
Producer: Rob Thomas, Dan Etheridge, Danielle Stokdyk
Stars: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Krysten Ritter, Ryan Hansen, Francis Capra, Percy Daggs III, Chris Lowell, Tina Majorino, Jerry O'Connell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Enrico Colantoni
When her ex-boyfriend Logan stands accused of murdering his pop star girlfriend, Veronica Mars finds herself torn between a new life in New York and old ties in Neptune.
What would be the point in having a negative word to say about the "Veronica Mars" movie? About the fairest criticism that can be leveled against the film is that it is for fans only. But that is precisely the point. Why would anyone else even be interested in the big screen adventures of a sass-mouthed high school P.I. from television anyway?
91,585 Kickstarter backers ponied up the bulk of a $6 million production budget because this is the project they dreamed about since the beloved TV show was felled by the cancellation ax. Along with his cast, series creator Rob Thomas stands atop the list of Veronica's biggest fans, and together, everyone involved was more than happy to finally scratch their collective itch and give everyone, themselves included, exactly what they wanted.
In the years since everyone's favorite former teenage private investigator was last seen, Veronica has moved onwards and upwards to a New York-centric romance with Piz and a bright future as a promising young big city attorney. Until a chance glance at a corner-mounted waiting room monitor gives her an unexpected update on old flame Logan Echolls.
It turns out that Logan's new flame, a former classmate living a second life as a pseudonymed pop star, was electrocuted in her bathtub and all evidence points to Logan as the prime suspect. Veronica knows better of course, as does the audience, and so our plucky heroine sets sail for a Neptune homecoming as the only person savvy and resourceful enough to set things straight.
Logan's predicament is untimely for Veronica, who is set to join Jamie Lee Curtis' law firm just as Logan sends out his distress signal, but it is perfectly timely for everyone else. The murder happens to coincide with the Neptune Panthers' ten-year high school reunion, rampant corruption in the local sheriff's department, and assorted other side stories woven in both cleverly and conveniently. Contrived? You bet. Will Veronica Mars fans care as long as they get to catch up with all of their old friends and familiar faces? Not in the slightest.
As likely as undyingly devoted marshmallows and even casual fans of the series are to light up excitedly at the endless parade of wink-wink cameos, newcomers and novices are just as likely to say "who's that?" every other minute as another character worms his/her way onscreen for fan service that might seem pointless to a neophyte. With 60 speaking roles, Rob Thomas and co-writer Diane Ruggiero found a way to include just about every "Veronica Mars" familiar one could think of into their script. It is about as realistic as it can be to craft an A plot that features everyone from Veronica's old principal to actor James Franco playing himself, but believability can be stretched in a case like this where fan satisfaction trumps all else.
To an outsider, the story's structure appears confounding. People regularly appear and say "I'm a (fill in the blank) now" or "I've been up to (such and such)." Without knowing who these people are, or without remembering them from the TV show, it can feel like attending a family reunion for someone else's family.
There is a handy recap conveniently summarizing all three seasons in 90 seconds at the beginning, although it probably does more to slam newbies with even more information to process in futility. Meanwhile, those who remember Veronica's teenage years better than they do their own will have cheeks sore from constant ear-to-ear grinning.
Thomas and Ruggiero don't stop at in-world in-jokes, either. Veronica scripts and dialogue have always included a measure of self-awareness and impossibly quick-witted snap to the dialogue. The feature film is no exception. References to Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas, a line about "weren't you supposed to be in the FBI?" and a street performer casually strumming "We Used to Be Friends" in the background are just a few of the Easter eggs fueling that aforementioned perpetual grin.
The mystery itself is on the thin side. Once elements are mentioned such as "senator's son" and the fact that third-billed Krysten Ritter is not going to be relegated to a minor role, several twists telegraph the direction of their turns. Still, the home stretch of how things play out provides surprising moments of high-tension action and gut wrenching emotion. The meat and potatoes that fans want with the movie is in the characters and their interactions anyway. And in that regard, "Veronica Mars" delivers.
The Veronica-Piz-Logan love triangle does have an unusually awkward resolution. Some fans will be ecstatic with one romantic moment in particular, although it raises questions about Veronica's character in a different light. The way in which one person is left in the lurch is slightly sketchy, but perhaps it can be understood in light of where things stand once the end credits roll.
And where do those things stand? Exactly where Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell, and 91,585 Kickstarter supporters want them to be. With a final product that respects the franchise, respects the fans, and gives everyone the movie that they both wanted and that they deserved.
“Veronica Mars” ties up loose ends almost too neatly, landing nearly everyone in a roughly better position than they were at the movie’s outset. Yet once again, that is kind of the point. Whether she is having an effect onscreen or off, never underestimate the irrepressible impact of Veronica Mars.
NOTE: There is a mid-credits scene.
Review Score: 85