Veronica Mars is a movie by the fans for the fans.
Famously funded via Kickstarter and released on the one-year anniversary of the successful crowd-funding campaign, few minutes go by between winks, nudges or tips of the hat to fans in the Veronica Mars movie. It premièred last Thursday in limited engagements at select theatres in North America as well as iTunes and other video-on-demand services. I got to see it in a packed theatre and if you can do the same, I wholly recommend the experience of being in on all the references with a room full of Marshmallows.
We reunite with our favourite teen sleuth nine years after the events of the show’s season-three finale and its untimely cancellation. Veronica’s (Kristen Bell) living in New York with Piz (Chris Lowell) when she hears on the radio that pop star Bonnie DeVille was found dead in her California home and that her boyfriend Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) is the main suspect. Logan calls Veronica and asks her for help. Before long, she’s back to Neptune, Calif., to help Logan find a lawyer. Veronica’s weeks away from writing the New York Bar and being a hotshot lawyer, much to the delight of her father Keith (Enrico Colantoni) who is all too happy she’s going to finally lead a normal life with a nice boy. I heard you were FBI, Veronica is prompted by Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen), a deep-cut reference to what would have been the fourth season of the show had CW picked it up (there’s a 10-minute teaser for it on the season-three DVD set, but you already knew that!). Veronica’s been up to a lot since we last saw her. She’s first to admit she’s softened, but she’s no less fun to watch.
It’s Neptune, after all, and she’s soon dragged to her 10-year high-school reunion with her BFFs Wallace and Mac (Percy Daggs III and Tina Majorino, who’s as charming and bad-ass as ever), where she unexpectedly finds clues that might help get Logan, who’s a Lieutenant in the Navy now, off the hook for murder. On the show, Veronica would have a whole season to solve a major crime, with littler crimes and victims coming to her throughout the season. It gave the show an opportunity to foster Veronica’s relationships with her friends and allies and introduce new characters. The movie has one new character, Ruby Jetson (Gaby Hoffman), a superfan of the late Bonnie DeVille. She’s good for a few laughs, but she’s ditched by the second act when the film smartly uses the series’ seemingly never-ending roster of cast members to weave its tale of deceit, blackmail and jealousy.
People who are unfamiliar with the series will not see much point in watching the Veronica Mars movie, but maybe the film’s release will spark their interest in binging on the show’s 64 episodes. It doesn’t quite work as a standalone film, even if it starts with a four-minute intro about what happened in the series. It’s a reunion, plain and simple, and I think video-on-demand is the perfect platform for it. The most cinematic thing about it is that it was released in cinemas, but Veronica Mars is little more than a long episode – a great, possibly even perfect episode – of the show with much higher stakes and a more pressing need to wrap everything up tidily. Those who’ve been waiting for Veronica’s return won’t be disappointed.
With the Veronica Mars movie, Rob Thomas and co. are thanking and saluting fans the best way they can.