As someone who has never set eyes on the cult television hit Veronica Mars and knows extremely little detail as to what took place on the show, the film puts me in an unusual spot for this detective’s feature film debut.
Rob Thomas’ film is bound to please any fan who’s been begging for a Veronica Mars reunion, but the real test is how it stands as its own movie. Can outsiders dig this feature film adaptation without feeling left in the dark, or is this specifically for those diehards?
Thankfully, anyone can be satisfied by Thomas’ film. Whether you’re a Marshmallow or not – a term I’ve learned that is embraced by the Veronica Mars fan base that describes them quite well.
It’s obvious to see that Veronica Mars was tailored for long time followers of Kristen Bell’s teenage detective, but the case Mars is sent on this time holds capably for a universal crowd. Even if the story took place in another film completely, audiences would still be wrapped up in this murder mystery.
A pop star is found dead, and her boyfriend Logan Echolls (played by Jason Dohring) is immediately to blame. The bothered beau is smothered by terrible press and local discomfort. Echolls reaches out to his ex-girlfriend Veronica (played by Kristen Bell) to gather guidance regarding picking out the correct lawyer, but the nostalgia of solving crimes and retuning home sweeps up Mars. She briefly leaves New York City and heads back to Neptune, California.
The last time I watched Kristen Bell in an indie, it involved a similar plot retaining to visiting original grassroots. Unfortunately, The Lifeguard was an inappropriate misfire that took a premise and made it an absolute dog. However, director/co-writer Thomas is able to apply his deep-rooted characters to the same type of theme and is able to create those authentic reactions and feelings The Lifeguard so badly missed.
I believe the filmmaker has had a bit of help from the time gap because of how long new adventures have been withheld from viewers. The idea of Mars being brought up to speed with older acquaintances in her updated small town fits well with the audience since most movie goers are practically going through the same motions.
Veronica Mars could’ve taken on a blatantly meta approach with these themes, but the film takes the high road. It takes a clever team to use an established property and not pander to its built in niche. Thomas and his crew realize the film still has to be open for any movie goer.
The thoughtful story has a real classy sense of depth and riddle to it, but also seamlessly blends in modern attributes. Social media and flashy technology is used to contribute clues, and just that. There isn’t a sense of Thomas and co-writer Diane Ruggiero trying to make their film “cool” or connect well with a present demographic. It’s a nice quality to the film and a sign that Veronica Mars isn’t a lazily, slapped together project hoping to rope in audiences by peppering recognizable staples like Instagram or Twitter into the movie.
As I learned tidbits about the TV show before watching the movie, I learned that the show was known for its nice blend of crime and comedy. Personally, the humour in Veronica Mars didn’t sit well with me completely. There are plenty of moments where the banter between Bell and past high school pals gets to be too quippy, although anything that was being said by Veronica’s concerned father (played splendidly by Enrico Colantoni) was making me giggle often.
Bell is terrific as the film’s lead snoop. The film doesn’t call for a big transformation from the fetching actress, but she is having to pick up a personality after a long hiatus. Personally, I can’t say officially if she matches the character, but she doesn’t seem to be intimidated by the task. It’s a captivating and firm lead role that Bell confidently uses to steer the movie in good directions. She has us trying to solve the mystery with her.
Rob Thomas has that same poise his lead female obtains with very few directorial quibbles. For instance, Thomas could’ve eased off of some musical cues. As much as I love The Dandy Warhols, their effervescent single We Used to be Friends is slathered on awfully thick during its context. And, the rest of the musical selections feel as if Thomas is trying to drive home an atmospheric twinge or a certain point too hard.
I was pleasantly taken by Veronica Mars though. It’s a pretty good chic thriller with the right stuff – leaving audiences broadly favouring this nifty lil’ catch-up.
Another smart move on the production’s part is the choice to release Veronica Mars on different viewing platforms. The theatre experience – I expect – is a contented sit-down, but watching this at home via VOD was perfectly fine for me. The movie does have the same presence as a television show (fancy that!), so it felt even more fitting to watch this in the comfort of my own surroundings.
Whether you watch it at home, in a theatre, in a box, or with a fox, you’ll be happy to have spent time with Veronica Mars either way.