Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) has been battling an addiction for a long time. Like most addicts though she does not think she has a problem. She tells herself that one last quick fix is all she needs to give it up all together. Veronica’s drug of choice you ask? Her obsessive personality. Giving in to her incessant need to dive into people’s lives, and find answers to questions no one was asking, Veronica has watched her addiction damage friendships and impact the lives of those she loves.
Despite Veronica’s best efforts to distance herself from the enablers of her addiction, most notably the people in her corrupt home town of Neptune, California, the fact of the matter is that running away way does little to quell the allure of the drug.
After spending the majority of her high school years diligently trying to solve the murder of her friend, Veronica is finally ready to put her sleuthing days behind her. Getting ready to take the Bar Exam, and with a possible job at a prestigious law firm lined up, Veronica’s life is actually looking up. Things even seem to be getting serious with her boyfriend Stosh ‘Piz’ Piznarski (Chris Lowell), whose parents she will be meeting in a few days.
Though Veronica wants to believe she is done with the past, it seems the past is not through with her. When her former beau Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) is accused of killing a famous pop star, Veronica finds herself returning to her hometown, on the eve of her ten year high school reunion in fact, in hopes of uncovering the real story.
Back in her old stomping grounds, Veronica not only reconnects with her father Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni) and old friends Wallace Fennell (Percy Daggs III) and Cindy ‘Mac’ MacKenzie (Tina Majorino), but she also gets an up close look at the corruption eroding the local police force headed by Sheriff Dan Lamb (Jerry O’ Connell).
Based on the short lived television series, Veronica Mars is as much about the fans’ obsession as it is Veronica’s. Much has already been written about the show’s fans rallying behind the Kickstarter campaign to bring the film to life. The dedication of the fans is not lost on director Rob Thomas, who created the series, as he truly gives them everything they could hope for. Thomas not only fills the film with many familiar characters, but also a slew of subtle gags, such as a busker singing the show’s theme song, that will bring smiles to the face of many.
Judging by the reaction in my packed theatre, Thomas’ loyalty to the fans was greatly appreciated. However, the real testament to Veronica Mars‘ success is in the fact that the film is genuinely fun. Thomas crafts a thoroughly engaging murder mystery that is accessible to loyal fans and newcomers alike. Watching Veronica Mars I could not help but think of how well the film succeeds where other female driven films of the genre, say One for the Money for example, failed.
The obvious major difference is that Veronica feels like a fully realized character within the context of the film. Regardless of whether or not you are familiar with the show, Thomas shows Veronica for who she really is, warts and all. Kristen Bell not only falls back into the role with great ease, but she makes a strong case for why we loved Veronica in the first place. Despite her best intentions, Veronica’s cocky demeanor and obsessive need to see things through to the end puts both her career and relationships in jeopardy. Thomas not only makes Veronica a rich character, but he also gives several of his supporting female characters, such as Ruby Jetson (Gaby Hoffmann) and Gia Goodman (Krysten Ritter), some of the film’s best moments.
The interesting thing about Thomas’ female characters is that they also highlight one of the film’s weakest elements…the men. The majority of the male characters pale in comparison. While there is something oddly pleasing about this role reversal, it does hinder the impact of things like the love triangle. Watching Veronica choose between bland but caring Piz and bland but caring bad boy Logan, is well…bland.
Veronica Mars also stumbles a bit when it tries to align itself a little too neatly with the show. For example, a particular character reverts back to his old ways simply based on one random act of prejudice. Frankly it feels artificial since it does not fit with the individual’s supposed growth up to that point. Thankfully Thomas and company provide enough overall enjoyment to overlook these small blemishes.
While Veronica Mars may not offer much new to the murder mystery genre, it is a thoroughly entertaining film that will have you wanting to follow Ms. Mars on further adventures. Veronica may be addicted to solving crime but, after spending a few hours with her, it is easy to see why fans are addicted to her.