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A Marshmallow’s Take on VERONICA MARS

As one of the 91,585 backers for the Veronica Mars Kickstarter, I am most definitely a fan. I heard about the Kickstarter at SXSW when it first launched, and immediately pledged from my phone. In the months leading up to this weekend, I re-watched the entire series. Yesterday, the film was finally released — and on my birthday, no less! Like almost every other Veronica Mars fan at the theater last night, I wore my Kickstarter t-shirt. Many of the reviews of the film so far, including Witney’s review here at Nerdist, have stated that this is a movie for the fans, and they’re not wrong. But is that really such a bad thing?

The film picks up nine years after the events of Season 3, with Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) poised to accept her very first law firm job in New York. She’s apparently given up her investigative ways — too many people got hurt. And yet, in typical Veronica fashion, she takes off for her hometown of Neptune, CA when she hears that her ex-boyfriend Logan Echols (Jason Dohring) has been accused of murdering his pop star girlfriend, Bonnie DeVille. (Viewers of the show will remember Bonnie DeVille as Carrie Bishop, one of Veronica’s classmates during the series originally played by Leighton Meester.) She leaves behind her current boyfriend, Stosh “Piz” Piznarski (Chris Lowell), forever the punching bag, and stalls her new job.

Veronica Mars

Neptune appears to be unchanged. The class war between the haves and the have-nots is bigger than ever, the bumbling cops are still corrupt (including a fairly lackluster Jerry O’Connell as the new Sheriff Lamb), and Veronica’s father, Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni), is still a much more competent private investigator. As Veronica tries to help Logan put together the pieces of Bonnie’s murder, she finds herself falling back into familiar patterns.

Coincidentally (wink), the 10-year reunion of Neptune High is just around the corner, which means plenty of fan favorites return. Veronica’s best friends Wallace (Percy Daggs III) and Mac (Tina Majorino) are back, along with the guy everybody loves to hate, Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen), but the reunions don’t stop there. We get bits of screen time from key series players like Eli “Weevil” Navarro (Francis Capra) and Vinnie Van Lowe (Ken Marino) to smaller characters due for their own time in the sun.

Though many Veronica Mars fans have probably seen the film by now, I still don’t want to give too much away. I will say that the plot has all the core elements we’ve come to expect from Veronica Mars: a murder mystery, possible conspiracy, red herrings, a tumultuous love triangle, an action-packed finale, and plenty of quippy one liners. (So. many. great. jokes.)

Veronica Mars

‘Shippers of Veronica and Logan or Veronica and Piz will have plenty of drama to sort through… and the film thankfully doesn’t let Veronica off the hook regarding the way she sometimes treats people. Our feisty heroine is an incredible woman, but she sometimes loses track of other people’s feelings in her pursuit of the truth. And of course, her relationship with her father is as perfect as ever. So perfect, in fact, that I wish we’d seen more of Keith.

Overall, Veronica Mars feels like a condensed season of the show. If you were to add more story to some of the smaller details and fleshed out a few the relationships at the center of the mystery, you’d have the arc of a season. That’s both good and bad. It was almost exactly what I wanted to see, from returning characters and individual jokes, to all the “in” jokes for fans of the show. (It has so many of those jokes that I can’t see too many non-fans enjoying the experience quite as much as my friends and I did.) It also left me wanting more, which is, again, what I was hoping for. I’d love to see Rob Thomas make another season, another movie, that gets back to the core relationships and develops its characters even further.

Veronica Mars

Is this a fan service film? Most definitely. Does that bother me? Not in the slightest. I agree with Witney that the production value was lacking, even for a low budget film, and there were definitely a few missteps along the way. The beginning dragged, mostly due to the necessary back story and set-up. But as soon as you hear that oh-so-familiar theme song, the whole thing locks into place.

Rob Thomas has said in interviews that he set out to make a movie for the fans. That’s what this movie is. It is entirely for the fans, and I loved almost every minute of it. More than anything, I want this film to be a success so there can be more Veronica Mars, whether it’s a film or a new series (Netflix, anyone?). Maybe now that we’ve got our fix of fan moments, he’ll have more room to shake things up and help Veronica Mars evolve into a new, even better story.

Have you seen the film? Want to talk spoilers? Find me on Twitter @RachelHeine.

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20 comments

  • […] Veronica Mars fans have had plenty of opinions about who our beloved pint-sized detective should end up with, but the show and the film are not just about romance. In fact, the love triangle often, thankfully, takes a back seat to Veronica’s cases –- and the lives of her friends, clients, and enemies. Part of the fun of returning to Neptune was getting to see so many of the show’s characters back in action. […]

  • @phil I would like to contend that your assertion about vm dating choices is simply inaccurate eg:if you examine her past boyfriends throughout the series they are all similar to duncan with one exception namely logan so the notion she has a thing for bad boys is a misnomer. In the series the two people who would do anything and everything for veronica are keith and logan,they have shown this to be the case on several occasions including the finales of each season s1=keith s2=logan s3=logan do you see the pattern logan has literally saved veronicas life at least 6 times throughout the series and her dads in the movie imo he truly loves her in spite of the few things he did early in the series and 1 thing during season 3
    she tells him towards the end of season 3 that she never wants to see him again and yet what happens he still shows up and saves her at the end of the season not only that but during the movie he NEVER once asks her to stay he also never asks her to turn down the job shes the one who makes all these decisions on her own
    veronica says this early in the film which i feel is a great way to characterize her ” ready to go back down to the batcave veronica”
    Veronica would never have been happy representing fortune 500 companies this is completely anachronistic of her entire ethos and didnt make sense to me so i contend she can take the bar in California because lets be honest in the vm universe if cliff passed the bar then veronica being exponentially more intelligent then both her father and cliff should breeze through it so she can help the people who really need her brilliant mind in neptune
    clearly the movie establishes early on veronica is still keeping tabs on an ex boyfriend she hadnt seen or heard from in 9yrs also the fact she keep the same phone number and still had his number in her phone tells you she was waiting for the call all these years

    They even added in the talk on her dads front porch where logan not only sums up his relationship with carrie but its also designed to reflect the nature of his relationship with veronica throughout the series “the first year was great and then her self loathing and terrible friends ruined it”which is exactly what happened in between season1 and 2

    this movie is an example of a new beginning for vm heroes journey eg:the call to adventure she had been waiting 9yrs for

  • Thanks for this review! I think it is good to have one from a VM fan and one from a non-fan. I agree that this movie is obviously geared toward the fans, but that is because it had to wrap up all the loose ends from the show which was cancelled with no resolution whatsoever. Maybe if non-fan reviews would stop discouraging people from going to see it so much, it might do well enough to get more VM made that could be more for everyone!

    @Phil I think everyone cuts Veronica too much slack. I love her, but she always had a crap-ton of issues and seems to have worked a lot less of them out nine years down the line than certain other characters have. I know that is what makes Veronica Veronica and what makes her perfect for a noir style P.I., but does anyone ever stop to think that maybe whoever ends up with HER is getting the short end of the stick relationship-wise?

  • @niizuma My point being was that Veronica has always had crappy dating choices and this movie was no exception. I enjoyed the film well enough, but the mystery was just a McGuffin to get her back to Neptune and have a reunion. Unfortunately, the mystery took a backseat. But I was fine with that because everything else was entertaining in between. But this movie also doesn’t get Veronica off the hook for making bad dating choices. I still couldn’t believe who she was with in the beginning and was more mortified with who she ended up with at the end considering all the nasty things he’s done to her.

  • @phil you do remember dick casablancas told his brother to rape veronica in season 1 ep 21 titled a trip to the dentist? wtf?
    so i absolutely hate the idea of vm and dc this coupled with all the other terrible things hes done to her during the series and his brothers actions you cant be serious also shes already done the best friend thing

    now onto the movie i loved it in spite of a few issues my favorite joke in the movie aside from the inside references was “a cops been shot on the 400 block of exposition boulevard “lmao

  • Yeah, the other review wouldn’t be problematic for some other review site, but for Nerdist it just doesn’t make sense to give an outside perspective. Nerdist is about promoting fandom more than high-brow critical standards.

    That said, I found the movie just a bit disappointing. Lots of the characters were shoehorned in and could have been given an actual role in unraveling the mystery instead. I think this was an opportunity to write a great cross-genre thriller (in the same way that the series was like great cross-genre short-form detective fiction), but instead we got a weird hybrid of “elongated episode” + “condensed season arc.”

    Did anybody notice Sachs’ reference to That Mitchell & Web look? The sketch he talks about (Nazis looking at their skull hats and asking, “Are we the bad guys?”) was referenced by Jonah in an old Nerdist podcast.

  • I’m glad Nerdist added a fan review for VM. This movie sits in an odd place because of how it was made and I’m enjoying reading reviews by people new to VM but find it odd when some major (for VM) sites are only offering a non-fan review. Thanks for this article Rachel.

    I love to love Dick Casablancas. If we get another movie that would be great. My personal dream would be a Netflix or Amazon series since I love the added character depth you get with episodic storytelling. I Sherlock style series might be amazing too, I could see this movie being the beginning of a three-parter. Rob Thomas talked about some interesting options he’d like to see on the PaleyFest panel. That panel was super amazing so track it down and watch it if you’re a fan.

  • I stinking loved it! This is the reaction most people will have, in my opinion. I’m confused why nerdiest would have a non fan review it (the other review), especially when the site is all about fan service! The film delivered above and beyond for all of us marshmallows.

  • I’m glad to see this review go up… I was one of the people who was feeling a bit let down by the first review — I considered it to be a disservice to the VM nerdbase, which I felt was out of character for Nerdist.

    For what it’s worth, I loved this movie, although I agree that it’s not going to captivate non-fans as much as existing fans. And I didn’t think the production value was lacking (the film was shot properly to accentuate suspense rather than action/violence, and they did a great job), and I didn’t think the beginning dragged on at all; in fact, I thought, if anything, they rushed Veronica’s decision to go to Neptune a bit. The writing was impeccable, and the mystery kept me guessing; it wasn’t until after all the reveals that I noticed all the clues that the writers had given me.

    I don’t think it’s the beginning of a return for the series (aside from the books which are coming out), simply because if there were any likelihood of another movie or series, I can’t imagine they would have tried so hard to shoehorn in so many returning characters from the three seasons of the series.

  • This movie was a pleasant surprise. I think there’s enough for newcomers to latch on to and even more for those coming back. I hope we get more Veronica Mars, especially in the age of Netflix (as already stated in the article). It was funny seeing the character of Dick again and immediately remembering what a douche the character is…so many things came flooding back so easily with this movie, I almost forgot just how much I loved the show and the characters…even the douchey moronic ones :)

  • Wait. Who loves to hate Dick Casablancas? He’s always been one of the series best characters. In fact, it’s either him or Weevel Veronica should’ve ended up with. Loved the series and loved the movie, but I’ve always hated Veronica’s boyfriend choices. And something tells me she’d be better off with that lounge lizard with the mojito dancing at the 09er. That guy had some moves.

  • I’m not a fan in the sense that you are. I’ve heard lots about how the fans loved it so much they got a movie through Kickstart.

    Based on that, I was anxious to see it. 

    I Loved it. Loved the plot, the love story, and love story outcome.

    Y’all quit trying to tear down what you’ve won and cheer it on onstead!!

    I, for one, want more!!! Now I’ll be busy watching all the tv eps I missed. Lucky me – I can binge watch the whole thing without having to wait week to week, season to season.

    That’s a win win for me, if y’all will allow it. 

  • There’s nothing wrong with with making something just for fans in theory. I say that as a fan myself. However, if what we really want is for this to enough interest to bring back the series, they should probably be trying to branch out somewhat beyond us, because to be quite frank, there weren’t enough of us to keep this thing around the first time.