Veronica Mars (2014)

Veronica MarsReleased: March 14, 2014. Directed by: Rob Thomas. Starring: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni. Runtime: 107 min.

Veronica Mars is a film made for the fans, released ten years after the television show’s premiere year. The show, cancelled after three seasons, stars Kristen Bell as the titular Mars, who is resurrected after all this time by a successful Kickstarter campaign (over 91, 000 fans backed the project, their donations totalling over $5.7 million), so this film really isn’t a big risk for the studio. This films follows Mars (Kristen Bell, duh) who is no longer a private teenage private eye. She gets pulled back to her town of Neptune – just in time for her high school reunion – when an ex-boyfriend, Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), is embroiled in a murder mystery.

This film brings in some themes of being drawn back to your home town and addictive lifestyles. I think the writers (creator of the show Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero) handle these themes really well. Your home town always calls you back and can trap you even though Veronica is trying to start a new life in New York as a lawyer. (Better to be trapped in Neptune, rather than Uranus. Haha.) That brings about addictive lifestyles, as private eyeing seems pretty fun. There are a few sub-plots that seem unfocused at the time, but in the end add a new layer to the film, like exposing corruption in Neptune.

The great thing about this film is that audience members who are not fans of the show will probably enjoy this, too. It’s a vastly entertaining, clever and effective whodunnit murder mystery. The main suspect is of course found in Logan, but Gaby Hoffmann portrays a crazed stalker who is also a suspect. She is crazed, but she’s also eccentric and actually pretty funny. Hoffmann, a child star known for Field of Dreams and Uncle Buck, is now making a comeback, and I’ve seen her referred to as a new “queen of indie flicks.” I don’t remember where, but it has a ring to it, doesn’t it? She starred in last year’s Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus and 2012, as the titular character, but I turned it off ten minutes in when I realized I’d have to look at those eyebrows the whole movie. (Feels like a good time to quote Walter White from the pilot of TV’s Breaking Bad saying “F*ck you and your eyebrows!”Otherwise, she’s charming. She can’t be so bad if I dedicated a paragraph to her, right?

veronica-mars-movie-2Anyway, I love the main character of Veronica, who is enjoyable for everyone. She’s a resourceful, intelligent, sexy and funny woman who’s very appealing. We need more of that kind-of character in cinema. Kristen Bell is perfectly cast as her, as I’m sure you already know. I love that little tinkerBell. (Hey, that comment on her cuteness and height could be a good nickname for her. What a happy accident.) Bell can have great chemistry with mostly everyone (her relationship with her boyfriend Piz, portrayed by Chris Lowell, sometimes feels hollow – but that might be the intention) be it her friends in the film or the great relationship she shares with Enrico Colantoni, her on-screen father. I’m sure it’s easier to work again with someone you worked with for three seasons on a show. This is a truly believable dynamic, when Veronica goes away for awhile and then she’s back, and everything goes back to normal. She’s changed, but it’s fun to break out the private eye stuff and do it all again; and for the viewers of the show, they might have changed, but it’s always fun to go for a few hours to the good ole days. I think those meta similarities to the real-life situation express the film’s brilliance.

Veronica Mars is also filled to the brim with cameos, many which take place at the high school reunion. Tina Majorino (from Napoleon Dyamite, who is insanely attractive by the way, but the only thing I saw her in before this was N. Dynamite) has a minor role as her character from the show, Cindy ‘Mac’ Mackenzie, and Percy Daggs III also reprises his role as Wallace Fennel. It seems there are other cameos, but I won’t spoil them – especially because there’s no excitement on my part for the cameos, never having seen the original television show. Well, except when I saw Daran Norris, because I know him as Gordy on TV’s Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide.

This is why another reason why the “Marshmallows” will find more enjoyment in this, especially since I didn’t have knowledge that the fans of the show are called “Marshmallows” during the film. So, I didn’t get the privilege of understanding that joke, but it’s a nice little Easter egg for fans. I didn’t feel out of the loop a lot of the time, though, which is good. (I counted two occasions, at least that I remember.) You’re going to be able to feel like a Marshmallow if you’re a fan of this movie, at least for a condensed time in this effective feature-length episode. The beauty of this mash-up of mystery, drama and great comedy is that it is so entertaining, it makes me want to check out the TV show. I think this is a great time at the movies complemented by a dynamite cast and a great soundtrack.

Score80/100

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6 Responses to Veronica Mars (2014)

  1. Great review. Good to know that this one works as a standalone movie for newcomers. Is it left open for a sequel?

    • Daniel Prinn says:

      Thanks, Natalie! I liked it a lot so I’m exhibit A, I had a lot of fun with it. I’ll say that there’s an openness for another adventure. I did peek at Kristen Bell’s upcoming projects and I saw that there’s an Untitled Veronica Mars spin-off that’s a TV series, so it seems like they might be taking the television route. I’ll still have to check out the original series. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  2. CMrok93 says:

    Never really watched the show, but now, I think I just might. Good review Dan.

  3. Dave says:

    Wow, normally people don’t like this movie, whether they are or not fans. I did like it, and gave it a very similar score. Did you watch the show? The plot was very…eh it could have been better after all of the years, Logan being accused of crime is hardly progress, and I wanted something more, and it ended up feeling more or less like a reunion flick. I still liked it, but I wanted to love it. I started, though, reading the book series that just came out yesterday (The Thousand Dollar Tan Line), and I’m actually loving that, thinking if they just made a movie out of this story…oh yeah.

    • Daniel Prinn says:

      No, I never saw the show. I liked the story. I thought it was effective. I actually did love this one, for a movie I didn’t have any big expectations for. I thought it was a lot of fun. That’s funny, I learn that the plot for the Thousand Dollar Tan Line was actually Thomas’ original screenplay for this film, but they realized they needed a way to reunite the characters after all this time. I’m going to have to give the show and the book a look-see.

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