Former teen detective Veronica is on the brink of starting her first job as a fancy pants New York lawyer when she sees a news report about a former classmate-turned-pop star being murdered. The prime suspect? Veronica’s on again-off again boyfriend and universally renowned bad boy heartthrob Logan Echolls of course, who else?! So this is one last mystery for Miss Mars to solve before heading off to her new life in the real world.
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars (TV Series), Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Frozen)
Jason Dohring (Veronica Mars (TV Series), Ringer (TV Series))
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars (TV Series), Just Shoot Me (TV Series), Person Of Interest (TV Series))
Chris Lowell (Veronica Mars (TV Series), The Help, Private Practice (TV Series))
Fair warning for those who haven’t seen the original Veronica Mars TV series, firstly go watch it it’s great – sort of like Elementary if it were on The CW – and secondly, I will probably mention some spoilers about the show, it’s ten years old now so it’s fair game.
I was a huge fan of the original series after I started watching during the show’s final season back in 2006, in fact I could probably credit it with spawning my TV addiction all those years ago, so I was clearly excited to hear about the movie being greenlit despite the controversy surrounding it (a kickstarter project we might talk about at some point on our podcast). I was also delighted to hear that most of the cast form the show would be returning to reprise their roles in the movie with Leighton Meester and Julie Gonzalo unable to return for various reasons outwith the plot (Meester’s character is recast for the movie) and Todd Dunn’s Duncan Kane obviously couldn’t show up, what with being on the run and all that.
It’s really heartwarming to see everyone back and it makes the movie feel really special. Enrico Colantoni, Jason Dohring, Percy Daggs, Tina Majorino and of course Kristen Bell’s reunion has that ‘getting the old gang back together’ type setup, but in all honestly it feels like they never left. The whole cast are superb of course but all credit to them for being able to walk back into a role they haven’t touched for six years and do it the same way they did back then and come off every bit as lovable in their own unique way as they were back then. The biggest differences were probably Mac’s new punk rock hair do, Wallace’s super conservative hair do (I’ve got to be honest, I missed the amazing afro) and Keith’s…wait, scratch that… Oh cameo shoutout this week goes to Parenthood star and real-life husband of Kristen Bell, Dax Shepherd, whose scene had me in absolute stitches. Tough call since everybody’s favourite James Franco also makes a guest appearance and is hilarious as usual, his scene just didn’t quite match up to Dax’s (Dax’s?…Dax’?…you know what I mean) for me, although make sure you watch the credit’s all the way through to see what makes it close.
The story is ok, probably a bit too generic to be a draw on it’s own but it ties up the show in a good way that gives you closure, but leaves it open ended enough to leave you’re imagination running. And of course leaves the possibility of a Veronica Mars 2 on the table. There’s a couple of big issues with the movie, the first being that it feels like an hour and a half long episode of TV. That’s fine if that’s what you go in expecting but if you’re picking something to see at the cinema or watch on movie night you might be a bit let down by the lack of set pieces and flair in general. The other problem is that if you’re not a fan of the show, you probably won’t enjoy the movie. I say problem but for die hard Mars-hmallows like myself it’s a good thing, it’s full of in jokes and references and throwbacks that you just won’t get if you didn’t follow the series. Sure you probably know the busker singing The Dandy Warhols – We Used To Be Friends about five minutes into the film is a nod to the series’ opening credits (and a great one at that!) but there’s a few lines thrown in there that just don’t make sense to casual fans or first timers that I don’t want to spoil because they’re a sweet surprise.
Despite all the fuss about it being fan funded, there is a very nice message in the end credits from the producers thanking all of the fans who donated to the cause and made the movie happen. Sure it’s not worth what some folks paid but it’s cute and a nice gesture from Rob Thomas and the rest of the folks behind the movie.
All in all it’s a very tough movie to score, from my point of view I really enjoyed it but if you’re missing out on the references then I’m not sure it would be watchable. It’s a must watch for Veronica Mars fans but for the typical cinema-goer it’s not really worth it. It’s worth mentioning the film is available on iTunes, Amazon and most other digital movie sources now as well as some theatres in the US.
TVFR Rating – 5/10 (7/10 for Mars fans)
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Stewart Scott – @TheStewDog