The folks behind Veronica Mars did what the creators of many a cultishly beloved, short-lived television show threaten to do: They went ahead and made a movie. Of course, that’s not the whole story here, as unique and interesting as that is. Rob Thomas and the Veronica Mars crew really struck people’s fancy, and got their press, by funding the endeavor with a Kickstarter campaign. They were able to raise millions of dollars, and then their movie got made. However, it’s not just about the journey. If you raise money and don’t deliver the goods, then all you’ve got is a nice little story of an Internet fundraising success.
Considering that fans shelled out their cash to fund this film, and considering they brought back a bunch of beloved characters, the people who loved this show were likely going to enjoy it no matter what. They’re probably just happy to see Kristen Bell back in action as their dear Ms. Mars. However, if a movie is nothing but fan service, what’s point? You could just stage some reunions at about 800 different conventions during the course of the year, and all those fans would be sated. Then, though, people who’ve never seen the show get nothing from the movie. Fortunately, Rob Thomas and company apparently wanted to provide their fans, and financial backers, with something of quality. Good for them.
For those unfamiliar with the original show, Veronica was a teenaged private investigator. Now, of course, she is no longer a teen, as the show picks up just in time for Neptune High’s 10-year reunion, which is a convenient way to get a bunch of old characters back in town and back together. That kills some of the novelty, but there’s been a litany of good movies made about adult private eyes, and most of those dicks were dudes, so the concept of a female private investigator still has its charms.
The story is the traditional “just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in,” one last case thing. Veronica now lives in New York City and is heading toward a law career, but then ex-flame Logan is implicated in the death of his girlfriend, a famed pop singer, and so he brings Veronica back to Neptune to help out. Also, there’s corruption and stuff in the town and at the sheriff’s office, because this is a city in a P.I. Story.
In moving from telling TV stories to making a movie, nothing is really lost. They still managed to craft a full, engaging, and occasionally quite gripping story. The dialogue is quippy, and if occasionally a clunker lands, mostly the attempts are funny and smart and serve to cut the tension when needed. Oh, and for a movie funded by Kickstarter, Veronica Mars boasts a hell of a cast. There aren’t a lot of “big names,” aside from a couple of cameos, but many of the people from the original TV show have gone on greater success, and most of them came back, presumably out of love for the show.
The best thing about the movie is that you don’t need to have seen a second of the show to enjoy it. The film stands on its own merits as a good movie. That should make the fans very happy. They get to see Bell and company back in action, they get some self-referential meta humor, and they get a worthwhile flick, as well. You might not understand everything if you aren’t a fan of the show. It may take you longer to understand what’s going on. But the movie seems to understand the need to make some concessions for the layperson. There’s even a brief, welcome, catchup when the movie begins. That’s pretty much enough.
Until now, Veronica Mars has been that movie that got funded by that Internet site. Now, it’s just a good mystery movie with snappy dialogue. That’s an even nobler thing to be.
Chris Morgan is an Internet gadabout who writes on a variety of topics and in a variety of mediums. If he had to select one thing to promote, however, it would be his ’90s blog/podcast, Existential Parachute Pants. (You can also follow him on Twitter.)
Director: Rob Thomas
Writer: Rob Thomas
Starring: Kristen Bell
Release Date: Mar, 14, 2014