Film

Film: Veronica Mars

March 17, 2014

It’s always risky to get the band back together for a swan song, but the recently kick-started Veronica Mars (2014), after an awkward opening few minutes, pulls it off smartly – it’s the series finale the show never had.

Set ten years after high school graduation, the film opens with Veronica (Kristen Bell) in New York City, happily dating third season beau Piz (Chris Lowell) and about to join a high-profile law firm. Her wayward youth comes back to haunt her when bad boy ex Logan (Jason Dohring) turns up the prime suspect in the murder of his pop star girlfriend. Against all better judgement, Veronica flies back to Neptune to help Logan find a lawyer – but, of course, gets sucked back into her PI past to solve the mystery.

Veronica Mars embraces the fact that it’s a labor-of-love nostalgia piece by structuring it around a Neptune High class reunion: a move that manages to get the whole gang back into play. I could have stood to see a bit more of the gang, actually – especially Wallace (Percy Daggs III), Mac (Tina Majorino), and Dick (Ryan Hansen) – but what we do see of them is great, both true to their characters and convincingly extrapolating their futures. The mystery, meanwhile, is typical Neptune: sordid, heightened reality conspiracy, featuring a number of Veronica’s classmates we hardly remember (Krysten Ritter) or never met (Gaby Hoffman, Martin Starr). It’s a bit Logancentric for my taste, but it’s full of the old twists and banter, and cleverly integrates all the players, including a number of popular supporting characters from the old days.

There are a few rough edges here and there – an under-examined police corruption subplot, some odd business involving biker Weevil (Francis Capra) that doesn’t go anywhere, and too small a role for Keith Mars (the great Enrico Colantoni) – but by and large the film did I everything I was hoping it would do. It’s one more spin down memory lane with some great characters, providing a nice open-ended finale that suggests that their world lives on.

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  • William Shunn March 17, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Saw the world premiere of this at SXSW last week and loved it. The open-endedness of the police-corruption and Weevil subplots is, I’m sure, deliberate, since the story will continue in Veronica Mars novels, the first of which will be released next week.

    • Chris East March 17, 2014 at 11:43 pm

      Oh, cool — thanks for the info, Bill. I guess the world actually does live on, then! 🙂 Is it an open-ended series, then?

      • William Shunn April 22, 2014 at 12:30 pm

        It does seem to be an open-ended series, and in fact Rob Thomas has stated that all the VM novels will be canon. I enjoyed the first book a lot (which picks up where the movie ends), even though it read more like several episodes of the TV series than like a satisfying novel. But I’m happy enough to keep spending time with the characters that I didn’t mind much.