Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Veronica Mars (2014) ***

PG-13, 107 min.
Director: Rob Thomas
Writers: Rob Thomas, Diane Ruggerio
Starring: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, Chris Lowell, Krysten Ritter, Ryan Hansen, Jerry O’Connell, Percy Daggs III, Tina Majorino, Martin Starr, Gaby Hoffman, Francis Capra, Brandon Hillock, Maury Sterling, Andrea Estella, Sam Huntington, Max Greenfield, Daran Norris, Amanda Noret, Ken Marino, James Franco, Jamie Lee Curtis

There’s nothing like putting on your favorite sweatshirt. For the people who discovered it, “Veronica Mars” was a surprisingly original television show that gave us a plucky heroine, witty dialogue and twists and turns to our hearts delight. It ran three seasons and was gone too soon. Then it came back in the most surprising manner possible. A Kickstarter campaign allowed the fans to fund the movie that the studio wouldn’t make and it made Kickstarter and movie history as the quickest three million dollars ever raised by crowd funding to make a movie. But does it live up to the television show?

For the most part, yes. Of course, I would’ve given the television seasons four stars each, while I only award the movie three. That’s because there was so much more to sink your teeth into in the TV series. Here, we’re restricted to two hours and a lot of catching up.

Taking place nine years after the end of the TV series, Veronica has left her life of sleuthing behind in her hometown of Neptune, California. She’s about to take the bar exam and lands a job at a big New York law firm, when Neptune comes calling. Once again she’s drawn into the P.I. life by her old on-again-off-again flame Logan Echols, who is suspect number one in the murder of his girlfriend, another former student of Neptune High. To make it all that more appealing—at least for nostalgia purposes—this happens just days before the Neptune High ten year reunion. This allows the filmmakers to bring back a whole bunch of vaguely familiar faces.

Unless your just binge watched the series before seeing the movie, seeing all these old characters ten years older is very much like a high school reunion indeed. You sort of recognize their faces, which have changed slightly with age, but you can’t quite place the names. It all feels very familiar though, if a little more serious this time around. They’re all grown up after all, and this ain’t high school anymore, except for a few people, who allow Veronica the opportunity to do what we all love to see her do best—tear people down in a manner that leaves them not quite sure what just happened.

The story structure is also a throwback to the series, and Rob Thomas and his co-writer Diane Ruggerio haven’t lost their touch for spinning a good mystery yarn. It’s good that they didn’t send Veronica to the FBI as it was rumored they would for so many years; this stuff isn’t really that dark and twisted. If it were, it wouldn’t really be the Veronica Mars model and it wouldn’t feel right. Is this great cinema? No, but it’s the same fun that the show provided, and I hope—much like Kristen Bell does—that Veronica can continue to be an entertaining figure in my life. I like that old sweatshirt.

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