"Veronica Mars," the movie, is just so Veronica Mars.
The teenage private eye from the 2004-07 TV series starring
Nearly everyone in the original cast is back, so it makes sense to have the film coincide with Veronica's 10-year high school reunion, because it does feel like a reunion. Or it will for fans.
I hate to keep mentioning the fans, but it's impossible not to. They — or at least 91,585 of them — basically bought and paid for the film via Kickstarter. And it is clear in every frame that the filmmakers and actors really appreciate that loyalty. It doesn't make for a particularly ambitious film, but it is a satisfying one as it moves easy, breezy over familiar terrain.
The film is also designed to be accessible to the uninitiated. The opening sequence uses a sprawling montage and pithy voice-over to fill in all the necessary blanks.
As the film opens, Veronica is living in New York, about to graduate from law school, and happily engaged to Piz (
Then word comes that Bonnie DeVille — pop star, old classmate and the girlfriend of Veronica's ex, Logan (
The appeal of "Veronica Mars" from the beginning on TV was the character's clever mix of self-awareness, intelligence, teenage insecurities, crackling dialogue and an old-school style of sleuthing. All those qualities in a more adult form make their way to the big screen right along with Bell, who slips into character like an old pair of jeans.
Without the luxury of an entire season to spin out the mysteries, there aren't as many layers for Veronica to peel back. But there are enough to make it interesting to guess whom the murderer might be and whether Veronica and Logan will reconnect.
As the old familiars reappear one by one, you see the deep legacy the show has had. Most of the actors have very visible careers, led by Bell with a popular Showtime series,
The core Neptune clique headed by Gia (
Theoretically Veronica is only back for a few days to help Logan pick the right defense attorney. But soon enough she's dissatisfied with how things are going and has picked up her camera, broken into a prime suspect's apartment — an obsessed DeVille fan played with a nice touch of insanity by Gaby Hoffmann — and enlisted her old sleuthing cohorts Mac (
There is a price for coming back home again and Veronica pays in big ways and small. On the lighter side, Mac and Wallace conspire to get her to the high school reunion, which is of course a complete disaster. More complicated is her dad's reaction.
Former police chief and quintessential gumshoe, Keith Mars (
Though there is a murder charge hanging over Logan's head and Veronica is in the process of possibly ruining her life, the film is a great deal of fun to watch as it plays around with old grudges, old flames and a police force — now headed by Sheriff Don Lamb (
In a sense, the film follows Veronica's story arc. There is a sense of empowerment and a new confidence in the choices being made by Thomas, but there is also so much more to say. Whether a sequel or another series is in the offing, the movie leaves the door wide open. That is just so Veronica Mars.
MPAA rating: PG-13 for sexuality including references, drug content, violence and some strong language
Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes
Playing: In general release