By Meryl Gottlieb| firstname.lastname@example.org| @buzzlightmeryl
Veronica Mars | Directed by Rob Thomas | Rated PG-13
“People say I’m a marshmallow.”
Hearing Kristen Bell narrate something that wasn’t Gossip Girl was music to my ears. I haven’t been a marshmallow — the name for fans of Veronica Mars — for very long, but my love runs deep. I can become invested in media almost instantaneously, exemplified by my quick obsessions with Game of Thrones, Hannibal and, of course, Veronica Mars.
Though we all know the third season was decidedly inferior in comparison to the first two seasons, I still hated being left on such a cliffhanger. Some may have had their qualms about continuing the series in film, but I was ecstatic. It’s not a spinoff; it’s simply a continuation of the story and was set to answer questions left by the finale. It finally gave marshmallows closure.
Had I been a fan of the show during the Kickstarter campaign — the whole reason for the film’s existence — I would have unquestionably ponied up some cash to every fan’s dream. This film is the pinnacle of what all fans of cult films or shows want. We crave more of the material we so deeply love. Droves of fans — 91,000 of them in fact — came to the Kickstarter page to give the project a total funding of $5.7 million, with the original goal having only been $2 million.
The film picks up Veronica’s (Kristen Bell) story nine years after season three, 10 years since high school. She’s in New York with Piz (Chris Lowell) and about to be a big-time lawyer when Logan (Jason Dohring) calls for help. His pop star ex-girlfriend Bonnie DeVille/ Carrie Bishop was electrocuted in the bathtub and he’s the top suspect. She heads back to the fictional town of Neptune, Calif. to help with the case and meet up with a few old friends along the way.
First and foremost, this is a film made by the fans for the fans. There are plenty of Easter eggs and references Veronica Mars fans will enjoy wholeheartedly. Alejandro Escovedo does a street performance of the show’s theme song, “We Used to be Friends;” a scene with Leo (Max Greenfield) briefly discusses the plans for a season four pitch involving the FBI; and — my favorite one of all — there’s a Logan’s daily inspirational message toward the end of the credits.
With a fan perspective, the film has a lot going for it. My face lit up any time a character popped up for the first time; I screamed and balled when certain characters found themselves in perilous moments; and I laughed endlessly at the plethora of references. Plus, Dax Shepard’s cameo is a scene I could watch countless times. I was also impressed with Krysten Ritter’s performance as Gia, a character who appeared in the show just as much as the journalism teacher in the first season, which means not a lot. After sharpening her craft, she came back and finally made that character mean something, and I was impressed. Martin Starr, who played new character Cobb, was also a force to be reckoned with as he played a character unlike his usual archetype. Bell fell right into her old rhythms and seemed at home in the character. Bell and Dohring’s chemistry was just as passionate and tension-filled as the old days. These two will never fail.
Where the film is its strongest from the fan point of view, it is its weakest from an outsider’s point of view. I thoroughly enjoyed the film for the reasons that it was made for fans, but in doing that, it alienates those who didn’t watch the series and eliminate the possibility of opening up the Veronica Mars universe to a pool of new fans. The reprise of one of the series’ most memorable lines about Logan and Veronica’s story being “epic,” probably fell on some deaf ears, for that would mean nothing to someone who hasn’t watched the show and memorized the monologue. Those characters I so thoroughly enjoyed when they popped in meant nothing to someone who couldn’t recognize who they were and wouldn’t care if they were in trouble.
Besides the obvious issues with the fact that it’s more so a movie for the fans, the film’s main murder mystery weighs it down. The movie felt more like an extended episode of the show than a story for a film, and it was not even one of the better episodes from the series. Veronica Mars worked best when it had mysteries lasting throughout an entire season; the mysteries in individual episodes were not always the most compelling ideas. For the film, the Bonnie DeVille murder really only drags down what we’re interested in — seeing these characters again. A better plot, for a sequel perhaps, would be to explore the corruption in the Neptune Police Department. Focus on Neptune and the people in that town because that is what we care about.
The idea Veronica is an addict of Neptune, Logan and being a private investigator would have made a really good point about her personality, but it was executed poorly. Weave this idea in subtlety, and it would have been brilliant. Explicitly state it countless times throughout the film, and its brilliance is killed.
Some wonder if this film is only the start. There is talk about sequels if it is financially successful — though it has only grossed $2 million to date — and there are novels already planned for release. If all else fails, I could rest easily as a fan if this film was the last piece of the Veronica Mars legacy. It ended on a fair, closure-worthy note and is a marker to show the success of the power of fans.
Marshmallows, you done good. #LoVe