Directed by Rob Thomas
It’s been stated many times that we’ve entered another “Golden Age of Television” where many of the best shows feature directors and actors from the world of movies transitioning onto the need for smaller screen entertainment. The quality of television certainly started to pick up in the 00s thanks to HBO and shows like “Lost” that were very cinematic in their storytelling and Rob Thomas’ “Veronica Mars” starring a fresh-faced Kristen Bell was one of those shows that gained a lot of fans by being different from everything else on television, basically a high school soap opera using humor and noir elements to create something new. It’s rare that a cancelled television show is given another life beyond possibly a DVD or Blu-ray release, so “Veronica Mars,” the movie, is somewhat of an anomaly that hopes to give fans of the show some sort of closure and maybe even a little hope of seeing their favorite characters again in the future.
After a two-minute montage that does an effective job recapping the two and a half seasons of the show for those that may have missed it (like myself), we’re in New York City where Veronica Mars is looking for a job at a law firm. Those plans are halted when she learns her former boyfriend Logan has been accused of murdering his pop star girlfriend, so she returns to Neptune, California, while doing her best to avoid the high school reunion that happens to be taking place around that same time.
Co-written by Diane Ruggerio, Rob Thomas’s sharply written screenplay is evident, especially from the quippy one-liners traded by Veronica with others with running narration by Veronica completing the central noir conceit along with the shadowy lighting – although let’s be honest that this idea was generally done better in Rian Johnson’s debut “Brick.”
The soap opera aspects of the show are obvious from the tension between Veronica seeing her old boyfriend Logan again, him turning up at the airport to greet her with flowers in full naval officer attire, making Jason Dohring look even dreamier to the women who watched the show. It may seem like Logan has been tamed by the passage of time, but those waiting to see him get in a fight or hit somebody won’t have to wait too long. Meanwhile, Veronica is now with another Neptune High alumni, Chris Lowell’s “Piz,” who once again has to compete with Veronica’s ex for her love. Even so, the best scenes in the movie are easily those between Bell and Enrico Colantoni as her private detective father. They have great interplay with moments that are comic and humorous and others more dramatic, but they definitely stand out amidst what generally feels like television actors trying to make a movie.
While Ryan Hansen takes on the comic relief role as the appropriately named Dick Casablancas, his character seems so much in the Seann William Scott vein of things, and many of his jokes will probably be funnier to those who liked him on the show. Krysten Ritter shows up at the high school reunion as her character Gia Goodman, as do others from the show, and it isn’t hard figuring out who everyone is, but every time Veronica runs into someone new, most of the conversations involve them explaining what they’ve been up to since she last saw them, which immediately quelches what little momentum may have been established in moving forward with the plot.
There’s more than enough going on with Veronica trying to solve the case and get Logan absolved while reconnecting with those from her past, yet Thomas introduces an odd subplot involving the biker “Weevil” who has moved on from his gang days to settle down with a wife and daughter. When he winds up in the wrong time and wrong place and gets in trouble with the town’s corrupt law enforcement, it feels like a shoehorned subplot that sidetracks the main storyline, seemingly there to set up another movie or series rather than something necessary to the plot.
Knowing the general premise for the show without ever having seen it, the movie seems much like what I expected, basically a longer version of what an episode from the show might be like. It’s a strange mix of tones and genres that doesn’t necessarily work as a feature film nor does it feel like something that needs to be seen on the big screen. (This may be why the movie is getting a day-and-date VOD release.) Others who haven’t seen the show also won’t have the same connection to the characters, which is why the movie ultimately doesn’t work as more than one last nod to the fans, which honestly doesn’t feel like enough to warrant making a movie. Even so, there’s still some fun to be had even for non-“Marshmallows,” including an appearance by Ken Marino in a funny scene with Bell and a couple of unexpected cameos.
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