Wow was I nervous going into this movie – I really, desperately wanted a vintage Veronica Mars showing (a la season one glory), and not a replay of Veronica 2.0, CW-style (I kind of like to pretend season three didn’t happen, to be honest) – but guys, they did it. They absolutely did it. This is indeed exactly the movie we all wanted it to be, and man oh man did it just make me happy.
But if you’re a Veronica Mars neophyte, or dragging one along with you to the theater, don’t despair – the movie opens with a solid (and certainly not brief) intro, a la “previously on Veronica Mars”, to get everyone on the same page. But honestly, I really can’t say how well this movie plays to people who aren’t fully in the know, because I definitely had a high baseline of delight just at seeing the old 09er zip code again. But while this movie does deliver to and for the fans, it also manages to do so without ever descending to the level of sheer fan service, which is no small feat. There is a story here, and it does stand on its own two legs – the mystery is engaging, Veronica gets to be both whip-smart and totally mistaken, and of course the patented Rob Thomas snark is very much in play. So I do think this movie is solid on its own merit – but I am hardly unbiased.
But there’s good reason for my bias – because in terms of character, Veronica Mars has been and always will be brilliant. She’s a flawed, sassy, guarded, take-no-prisoners, hard-ass kind of softie, as beat-up and down and out as any classic Noir detective – and therein lies the genius of the show; same old story, new character. And in true Noir fashion, we do have to ask ourselves throughout this movie if going back to her old ways really is the best thing for Veronica, or if she’s planting the seeds of her own destruction – and yet even if she is, we still can’t help but root for her downward slide, because it’s just so much fun to watch her get back on that horse. And that, that I loved.
Now for the established Mars fans, let’s talk people we know. Logan: oh yeah, he is looking good – and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Weevil, Piz, and Dick are all very much in evidence; Wallace and Mac too, though they end up playing more of a background role, sadly. Good ole Vinnie has a delightful cameo – and heck, even Celeste Kane shows up. All in all it really does feel like a homecoming, in every respect – and luckily for Mars Investigations, Neptune is as rife with seediness and scandal as ever.
Now I will say, again as a fan of the TV show, the plot did feel a bit truncated to me – for obvious running-time (it’s-only-a-movie-not-a-full-season) reasons. We’ve been spoiled by the season-long arcs, I think – and while the mystery held together, it did definitely lack some of that overarching, big reveal oomph. Though at the same time, this story does set the stage for a larger storyline to come – and it will come, on the page if not the screen, as Veronica Mars books are definitely happening.
So in the end, the humor made me laugh, the danger felt real, and watching Veronica skulk, sneak, and spy was as fraught and wonderful as ever. So yes, they did good.
Welcome back, Veronica. We’ve missed you.