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Movie Review: Veronica Mars

Movie Review: Veronica Mars

Director: Rob Thomas
Writers: Rob Thomas (screenplay), Diane Ruggiero (screenplay)
Stars: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni

Synopsis: Years after walking away from her past as a teenage private eye, Veronica Mars gets pulled back to her hometown – just in time for her high school reunion – in order to help her old flame Logan Echolls, who’s embroiled in a murder mystery.

I must preface that I have not seen the TV show. So, while I’m not a Marshmallow, I’m also not a hater by any means. I’m just an outsider who got a first taste on the franchise during the film.

Well after a long wait, Rob Thomas and his crew are back as they take Veronica Mars from the small screen to the big one. Fans of the TV show will more than likely fall in back in love right away. The opening is a montage of old clips as Kristen Bell walks us through where they’ve been and what is the latest happenings on everyone. Thomas is trying hard not to exclude non-fans and sets up the story well for the most part. However, if you’re an outsider, you’re always a little distant as it feels mostly like a continuation of sorts, which can be ambiguous at times. Thomas uses lots of inside jokes that fans will surely love though. And let’s be honest, the fans paid for this project, so catering to them was not a bad idea at all. The use of voice-over, silly innuendo’s and mystery made for a great time, which I’ve been assured is just how the show felt. Plus, anytime you can get James Franco can make a cameo putting on skinny jeans, you’re okay in my book.

Grade: B+

Well it’s been ten years since the last time people saw Veronica Mars do anything exciting and since then, she’s mostly just moping around, going to law school and trying to figure out what to do with her life. She’s also dating “Piz”, someone who I’m sure fans of the show will know more about. It’s not long before we find out that her ex-flame, Logan Echolls, is accused of murder and Veronica’s PI addiction comes running back. From there we see Veronica do her thing, leaving a wake of consequences behind her, something she knew would happen. The mystery of this story is solid and compelling as this environment could bring. However, Thomas’ script leaves little room for supporting characters and some sub-plots are left unattended too, which took the air out of them. Veronica’s love arcs, both of them, are not very believable and needed more depth to add any value (maybe the show provided some of that? Help me out fans). The dialogue they create though, is very funny, clever and used perfectly through and through. Thomas does a great job of blending humor with dramatic elements making the mystery very stimulating.

Grade: B+

RELATED: Nymphomaniac: Part I Review

Kristen Bell was fantastic as Veronica, as you could imagine, and really carried the film well. Bell can be hit or miss for me, but she was solid in this role. And she really needed to be as all the other supporting characters are very small and mostly shallow, except for Jason Dohring as Logan and Enrico Colantoni has some great scenes as Veronica’s dad. Again, haven’t seen the show, but did not buy Dohring in his role very much. Perhaps true to character, but from a first glance, he’s dull, subdued and mostly mundane throughout the film. And he’s a murder suspect? Certainly didn’t feel that way. Colantoni added some nice moments as did Chris Lowell as Piz, however his story arc ended abruptly that didn’t feel genuine. Most of the other supporting characters were fine though and did what was needed. James Franco, Justin Long, Dax Shepard and Max Greenfield were a nice surprise cameos that were terrific as well.

Grade: A-

Josh Kramon, who scored the original TV series, came back as well to give us the music for the film. Usually this is one of my favorite elements of film, however, this score was mostly subdued, boring at times and very generic. The ending sequence and some mystery elements were good but outside of that, it’s very forgettable.

Grade: C

Veronica Mars, from an outside perspective, is a little ambiguous at times and will leave you with some questions to annoy your friends with who do know the show. Some story arcs were not handled well and it’s really just the Kristen Bell show. That being said, this is still a fun movie. The mystery elements were fun and the overall story is pretty good that will leave you engaged throughout the film. It’s obvious they are catering to the fans though, who I’m sure will just have a ball with this film. If you’re a Marshmallow, the inside jokes and jabs at the original show will be fun and to see all these characters come back I’m sure was a treat.

Overall Grade: B

InSession Film founder and owner. I love film. Love art. Love how it intersects with our real lives. My favorite movies include Citizen Kane, The 400 Blows, Modern Times, The Godfather and The Tree of Life. Follow me on Twitter @RealJDDuran. Follow us @InSessionFilm.

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  1. Jess

    I’m glad that you liked it! Watching it I was really curious how a non-show-watcher could connect because it seemed SO much like a continuation vs. a fresh start. I think since they wanted to please fans they took that route, but I almost wonder if it could’ve been better to do more of a reboot. I loved it because I just wanted to be back in that world. It was fun seeing all the characters you love & hate and seeing a new mystery unfold (although with such a short time, it doesn’t get quite as interesting as the season-long mysteries from the show).

    Some of your thoughts specifically:
    Logan Echolls character – I think this really relied on past knowledge of his character. He was always the charming, yet borderline psycho character that Veronica had a magnetic pull to (while Piz was the more vanilla but stable option). In this movie though he seemed pretty neutered besides the fist fight, but I feel like they were just trying to make him seem more mature (like he might finally be good enough for Veronica? I don’t know). I missed his more asshole side for sure. He was way too toned down and I didn’t really get his military career (I’d never pick that for a future career).
    Unfinished arcs – Yeah! Like they definitely left it off without tying things together, which only left me wanting more. Much more.
    Voice over – that’s a trademark of the show so the movie definitely needed that.
    Supporting characters – really fun to see a bit of everyone, but it did feel too spread thin and with all the cameos it just really took me out of the movie sometimes because there were just too many winks & nods.

    Overall though, I would also give it a B as a general film, but an A- for fan service. They laid it on thick which is really fun for fans, but I’d like to see more out of this series where they didn’t focus so much on that and just went with a more straight forward story.

    Sorry for the long comment, but it’s the first time I’m really laying out some of my thoughts!

    • InSession Film

      Hey Jess, first all, love the comment, especially from someone who knows the series more than I did. And yeah I totally agree, they were definitely catering to fans big time, which is expected since they funded the film. So I knew going in I probably wouldn’t get every joke or dynamic.

      Yeah I wondered that about Logan. He was very subdued and as I mentioned in the review a little dull for me. But of course, I didn’t know his crazy background.

      The voiceover I assumed that was a part of the show, and it’s something I didn’t mind. I thought Thomas used it well in most cases. Were any of those cameos a part of the show? Was that something they did? I completely understand why someone would be pulled out. The Long and Shepard cameos especially weren’t 100% necessary.

      As for your grades, that’s pretty much exactly where I stand and what I’d guess for fans of the show. But yeah I seem to pretty much be in the same boat as you. Thanks for the comment too, really appreciate the feedback!

      • Jess

        Cameos – no there were no cameos although there were a lot of guest stars (at one point TMZ mentioned Paul Rudd, who guest starred in s3.. I preferred a nod like that than a random cameo from someone who wasn’t even on the show). I could’ve definitely gone without Long or Dax. Now if they had Long come back in the same role as when he showed up at the Zach & Miri reunion, I’d have been all for it. I did think the Franco bit was funny though.

        • InSession Film

          Ah I see, yeah that would of made more sense. And yeah I thought Franco was funny too. At least that cameo sort of moved the story along a little bit.