Veronica Mars, directed by Rob Thomas
A lot of people really, really like Veronica Mars.
There are several ways I have deduced this: 1) All my friends who talked about the TV show, even before it was a movie, and even though its last season ended seven years ago 2) The 91,585 people who raised more than $5.7 million to make a movie based on the show — the most backers of any Kickstarter campaign, ever, and 3) The plenteous hoots and hollers and other joyous exclamations I heard throughout the film when I saw it with a dozen or so press reviewers and, apparently, hundreds of Veronica Mars fans.
Though it only lasted three seasons, Veronica Mars the TV show was the perfect mashup of brainy whodunit, delicious high school drama, and witty talk-filled television. Its multiple-episode mysteries, along with shorter ones, kept audiences guessing, and the surprising grittiness of the show kept it from being a sugary dud: In just the first few episodes, Veronica’s best friend is murdered; her mother abandons the family; and she is raped at a party. She learns to cope with these tragedies by helping her dad solve cases at his private detective shop in Neptune, California, as well as taking on a few of her own mysteries.
Fast forward 10 years, and it’s time for the movie. Veronica (Kristen Bell) has just graduated from law school, has a happy relationship with a very nice boyfriend, and is interviewing with high-powered New York law firms. She’s happy she left behind seedy Neptune, her private investigation days, and the drama they brought with them. But then she gets a call from back home: Her ex-boyfriend Logan (Jason Dohring) has been accused of murdering his celebrity girlfriend. Veronica flies out, just to help him pick a defense attorney, but soons find herself back to her old ways, snooping around houses and sneaking peeks at documents, convinced that Logan is innocent. She ends up embroiled in multiple mysteries and at odds with the corrupt sheriff’s department, wondering if she can still shake her addiction to private investigation and get out of Neptune for good without leaving her Logan, for whom her feelings are complicated, on the hook for murder.
Veronica Mars is unapologetically a fan movie. Multiple beloved characters return, even if for short appearances. Reference after reference is made to the original TV show. And *SPOILER ALERT* Veronica ends up with the guy that audiences were clearly hoping she would end up with.
But, surprisingly, it’s also a fun watch for people who’ve never seen the show, or who have only seen a few episodes, like me. It’s suspenseful; it’s playful; it’s funny; it’s fast but not too fast. A few surprise cameos are a delight, from people like James Franco, NPR’s Ira Glass, and Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell’s real-life husband. And it packs the punch that so many good detective shows have: Justice is done.
Veronica Mars made me want to watch all the TV episodes and then re-watch the movie.
It made me one of those people who really, really like Veronica Mars.