Review by-Jarrett Leahy
Ten years removed from her life as a teenage private eye, Veronica Mars is on the verge of accepting a highly sought after position with a prestigious New York law firm. But when the news explodes about the sudden, shocking death of pop-star Bonnie Deville, Veronica returns to her hometown of Neptune, CA in the hopes of proving the innocence of Logan Echolls, a former boyfriend who has become the prime suspect in Bonnie’s death.
Veronica Mars was originally a television show that ran for three seasons from 2004-07 on the CW Network. During that time, the show built quite the loyal fan base. These diehards were devastated upon hearing the news that the show was not being picked up for a fourth season. In March of 2013, star Kristen Bell and show creator Rob Thomas announced the completion of a script and the launching a fundraising campaign on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter in the hopes of raising $2 million to film the movie. According to Wikipedia, the $2 million goal was reached in less than ten hours of the campaign’s initial launch, with the eventual total reaching just over $5.7 million thanks to 91,585 donors. That dedication and passion alone was enough for me to give this film a chance, even with having never seen an episode of the now defunct television series.
Offering the perfect blend of determined tenacity and wisecracking wit, Kristen Bell’s personal connection and adoration for her Veronica Mars character is quite obvious. Kudos must also go to actor Ryan Hansen, whose sarcastically irreverential character, Dick Casablancas, manages to steal every scene he’s in thanks to a biting flippancy that I couldn’t stop chuckling at.
Knowing, like me, there would be a good deal of movie fans who may stumble across the film without having seen the TV show, co-writer/director Rob Thomas made the very wise decision to simply set aside the the first two and a half minutes of the film to allow for a much appreciated, quick recap of what previously transpired. Comparing cast lists, many of the actors who starred in the series reprised their roles for the film. The camaraderie and joy shared between this group can be felt throughout, as the delight of this unexpected reunion is visible through the exchange a playful glances.
Thomas included obvious insider nuggets, like when Officer D’Amato mentions to Veronica his belief that she was now working for the F.B.I., a statement that left Veronica bewildered. This interaction remained a bit puzzling to me as well until I later discovered it was a subtle reference to a trailer Thomas had created and put on the third season DVD that indeed depicted Veronica as an F.B.I. agent. Even if I didn’t quite know what certain “winks” were in reference to, I still found them charming, as if I was being invited to a private celebration.
Surprisingly more entertaining than initially anticipated, Veronica Mars is a briskly paced and absorbing murder mystery that can be enjoyed by fans and novices alike. Performing a role she obviously loves and knows by heart, star Kristen Bell is truly beguiling as the esteemed mystery solving maestro who shrewdly uncovers some of Neptune’s darkest secrets. Congratulations are in order for director Rob Thomas who offers a proper sendoff to a venerated show that I just might need to check out on Netflix.-JL