A Long Time Ago, We Used to be Friends: Veronica Mars makes the impossible possible

Veronica Mars movie poster official

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Diehard Marshmallows who didn’t spend last weekend at Planet Comicon will have seen the movie version already.  Those of us who had to slave away at a booth hawking books for three days had to wait.  But what’s another week after ten years of pining for our favorite girl detective?

Famously bankrolled by fans in an innovative Kickstarter campaign last year, Rob Thomas’s big-screen reunion of his short-lived TV series, Veronica Mars, felt like falling into another episode (except ten years on, the drinking, sex, and swearing has all grown up… and somehow feels a little uncomfortable now).  The whole gang is back–Mars (Kristen Bell) and father Keith (Enrico Colantoni, Galaxy Quest), ex-boyfriend Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring, Ringer), hacker pal Mac (Tina Majorino, Andre, Corrina, Corrina), biker pal Weevil (Francis Capra), sweet socialite Gia Woodman (Krysten Ritter), even our favorite disgraced deputy, Leo (Max Greenfield, now in New Girl).  A couple of lively new additions, including Gaby Hoffman (Field of Dreams, Uncle Buck), and Jerry O’Connell (Sliders, Stand by Me) as Sheriff Dan Lamb (brother of slain series sheriff, and Mr. Mars’s archrival, Don Lamb) round out the cast.

Veronica Mars back at Mars Investigations

On the brink of her ten-year Neptune High reunion, Veronica Mars finds herself a little too settled, with a good job as a slick New York attorney and a good relationship with college boyfriend Piz (Chris Lowell, Private Practice) waiting for her.  But good news!  Troubled ex-boyfriend Logan has been accused of murder again.  Veronica to the rescue, much to the chagrin of father and boyfriend.

Neptune hasn’t changed much–it’s still the 09er Haves vs the Have-Lesses, with everybody buzzing about the latest celebrity scandal.  Former classmate Carrie Bishop (Andrea Estella), now popstar Bonnie deVille, has been found murdered–electrocuted in her bath, violent ex Echolls the prime suspect.

Veronica Mars bar fight

Amid the snarky nostalgia and one-upsmanship of the reunion, Veronica puts on her old sleuthing hat and ties Carrie’s death to the drowning of a fellow classmate several years ago.  Using all the familiar tools at her disposal (including BFF Wallace Fennel (Percy Daggs III), who used to exploit his access to school records as the office assistant, and is now a Neptune High teacher and basketball coach), Veronica hunts down Carrie’s killers in an effort to clear Logan’s name.  Additional drama in the form of police corruption and a strange twist on a gangland shooting, make it seem like the series never ended, that Rob Thomas’s world has kept on ticking all these years.

The re-assembled cast, too, hasn’t lost a beat.  They all fall so easily into their old rhythms, particularly Colantoni, Ryan Hansen (Dick), and Dohring.  For a brief glimpse, it somehow felt like we saw enough of everyone (compared to, say, a Star Trek film, where some cast members get left behind in the action).  If any characters seemed a little out-of-step, it was for understandable plot reasons we won’t reveal here.  Even Veronica’s iconic collection of jackets makes its appearance–here in at least five incarnations, from denim to leather to leather again to a chic ponte knit blazer we kind of loved…  Sorry, what?

Dohring in Veronica Mars

All in all, there is nothing at all in Veronica Mars to disappoint fans.  Thomas gave us exactly what we wanted–exactly what we loved–without trying to out-do the original series as so many beloved TV shows that make the jump to the big screen do (The X-Files, Twin Peaks, Firefly, Star Trek: The Next Generation).  It’s harder to say whether there’s enough to appeal to a new audience, but pffft.  Who cares?  Did they pay to make this movie?

Go see it.  Veronica Mars is in theaters now.  For those of you unlucky enough to live too far from its limited release, don’t despair!  Thomas & Co. have defied Hollywood convention yet again and simultaneously released the DVD during the theatrical run.  Order your copy at Amazon.com.

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