Review: Veronica Mars
Written by Steven Panzarella(@ProCreateSteve)
Disclaimer- I am a backer of the Veronica Mars Kickstarter.
The Short- Veronica Mars gives the fans exactly what they wanted, a 1 hour and 47 minute episode of the cancelled too soon drama. An ode to the fans that made it possible, Veronica Mars gives fans the juicy storylines and witty dialogue they yearned for while opening up the idea for newcomers to watch the movie then go home and binge the show.
Someone once said “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” I doubt the person that uttered that phrase was talking about TV programs cancelled too soon but if they were they might have mentioned the former UPN noir cult hit Veronica Mars. It gave birth to the career of Kristen Bell (Frozen, House of Lies) and garnered an obsessive following that only began to strengthen after the show was cancelled in 2007. I watched the show for the first time only after its third and final season finished; as soon as I started I was hooked. It was my first successful binge of a show but I left that experience unsatisfied. The series finale left more to be desired, more questions to be answered and a lot more of all the things that made me and over 91 thousand others obsess over the show for the 7 years in between the shows death and today. Within hours of the Kickstarter campaign the movie was fully funded thanks to those aforementioned 91,000+ people who spent their hard earned cash to help finance the film that might make as much as $3 million on it’s opening weekend.
Shot over a fairly short period of time show creator/director Rob Thomas was able to bring back close to the entire cast besides a few cast members who were unneeded or unable to return. The movie takes place far in the future, Veronica has graduated from Stanford and is weeks away from taking the bar exam. She has already begun meeting with New York law firms (Jaime Lee Curtis appears in cameo as the head the firm Veronica is interviewing with) when the movie begins. Veronica is pulled back to her hometown in time for her high school reunion, and to get embroiled in a murder mystery involving her Ex Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring).
If you are a fan of Veronica Mars, the movie is more of the same. Bell and company are in prime form with witty dialogue and continuing the fantastic chemistry that made the show so watchable. The movie gives each of the side characters a moment to shine but those take a backseat to the more major roles that include Veronica and her father, played by Enrico Colantoni (Person of Interest, Flashpoint) as well as friends Mack (Tina Majorino) and Wallace (Percy Daggs III). The movie gives plenty of screen time to series side characters without losing track of plot or forgetting to tell a story that can be more than just for intense fans of the show. The cast is fantastic but some show plenty of growth between 2007 and now whether it’s Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls, Hit and Run) who plays Logan’s best friend Dick Casablancas, or Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad) who has grown literal leaps and bounds between her original portrayal of rich girl Gia Goodman in 2005 to now where Ritter plays a much bigger role in the movie than I anticipated and she does it very well. Other actors like Max Greenfield (New Girl), or Tina Majorino (True Blood, Grey’s Anatomy) already grew up before returning to roles in the Veronica Mars movie but it’s nice to see just how much better they have gotten. Rob Thomas’ direction is the most surprising feat of the film. Thomas had only directed 2 episodes of Veronica Mars while it was on TV but he captained his short lived but epically funny show Party Down before taking the reins on his first major motion picture as a director. His script is brave with plenty of surprises but the direction of the film turns the simple crime drama into more of a noir murder mystery then any episode of the show ever was. Thomas does an excellent job telling the story without trying to get too creative or even too cliché, which is a possibility it being a teenage drama set in the 2000s with a corny pop song soundtrack.
Veronica Mars is not without flaws, I can imagine for anyone who has not watched a single episode of Veronica Mars the TV series, the movie may feel less like a crash course and more like being the one guy at the party not getting all the inside jokes. Either way Veronica Mars is a wonderfully scripted, well-acted, murder mystery with plenty of funny cameos (James Franco, Justin Long, Dax Sheppard, Jamie Lee Curtis, Harvey Levin and Eddie Jemison). I don’t know how this movie plays with non-fans but according to rotten tomatoes critics enjoyed it to the tune of 76%. If you are looking for a well scripted, well-acted murder mystery to see in theaters then Veronica Mars may just hook you, and if you are a fan you have no choice.