"Veronica Mars" fans have waited seven years for resolution to the beloved teen noir series, which was canceled by the CW after three seasons and left with loose ends which the fans - in the fashion of Mars herself - simply could not leave hanging. And while her return to the fictional Neptune, Calif., in the new "Veronica Mars" movie may not satisfy moviegoers unfamiliar with the show, frankly, it wasn't made for them.
Created by Rob Thomas and starring Kristen Bell (most recently the voice of the main character in the Disney film "Frozen"), the show was revived in movie form thanks to a fan-funded Kickstarter campaign that went live March 13, 2013 and smashed through its $2 million goal in 12 hours. The campaign continues to be the most-backed in Kickstarter history, having raised more than $5.7 million. Fans were rewarded for their support with everything from T-shirts (for a $25 gift) to signed posters ($200) to voicemail messages recorded by a cast member of choice ($500). Additionally the limited-release film was made available for download online at the same time it arrived in theaters, so that all who contributed to the movie's creation could enjoy it immediately.
Most importantly, the project gave fans what they wanted most of all: a proper ending. "Veronica Mars," the movie, is essentially one long episode of "Veronica Mars," the show. The plot - Veronica, now a successful lawyer, is drawn back home to Neptune to help heartthrob Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) defend himself against the murder of his rock star girlfriend and quickly finds herself pulled into an investigation - is blatantly secondary to the character drama.
This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Kristen Bell in a scene from “Veronica Mars.”
This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Jason Dohring, left, as Logan Echolls and Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars in a scene from “Veronica Mars.”
We don't really care how Bonnie DeVille died (although we root for Veronica to solve the case) - we care about Keith Mars (Veronica's father, a private eye and former sheriff of Neptune, played by Enrico Colantoni) and his fight against police corruption, about whether biker boy Eli "Weevil" Navarro (Francis Capra) has cleaned up his act and - of course - whether Veronica and Logan will finally end up together.
Perhaps the clunkiest plot device in the film is the love triangle depicted among Veronica, Logan and Veronica's college sweetheart, the pretty boy Stosh "Piz" Piznarski (Chris Lowell). Considering Veronica's general indifference to Piz throughout their relationship in season three of the show, the likelihood of a rekindled romance seven years later is eyebrow-raising, to say the least. And while Lowell is a good sport in reprising the character of Piz, it's hard to believe a character this sweet, naive and devoted hasn't grown up in seven years - Lowell certainly has.
But it's hard to begrudge Thomas bringing back every single character "Veronica Mars" fans have known and loved (and a few we've hated). The film boasts returns from Veronica's best friends Wallace Fennel (Percy Daggs III) and Cindy "Mac" Mackenzie (Tina Majorino), as well as a multitude of minor characters including dimpled police deputy Leo D'Amato (Max Greenfield) and Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen). Fans also are rewarded with inside jokes, references to events that occurred on the show and even a cameo from Ira Glass of "This American Life."
While the actors are clearly having a blast with this reunion, the film never becomes self-indulgent a la "Ocean's Twelve."
"Veronica Mars" has kept perhaps its more important attribute - sharp writing. Veronica's witty one-liners, her quick rapport with her father and Logan's surly sarcasm haven't changed, and the fast-paced dialogue keep the pace moving even when the plot isn't advancing.
But advance it does. Perhaps the most striking difference from the show is the movie's quick resolution of the mystery. After the season-long plot arcs I was accustomed to, even when Veronica proclaimed with confidence her certainty about the murderer's identity, I kept waiting for another twist. But the movie isn't really about the mystery ... it's about Veronica's pull back to Neptune, back to Mars Investigations and back to her true calling is a private eye.
Like the detectives it glorifies, the film has pulled back the curtain, shone the light under the bed and answered all our questions, leaving us content that Neptune and Mars are safely back in orbit.
3 1/2 stars out of 4.
Rated PG-13 for sexuality including references, drug content, violence and some strong language.