Almost a year ago exactly, cast members and crew involved with the “Veronica Mars” television show posted a campaign to Kickstart a film based on the show. Fast-forwarding to today, that movie is hitting theatres, stirring up old allegiances and sparking new questions in Hollywood about the costs of producing a hit.
Ten years after her last case, Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) has moved to New York City, is about to graduate law school and is in a relationship with Piz (Chris Lowell). She is interviewing at some of NYC’s top law firms when she gets a call from old flame Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring). Enticed back to Neptune, California, Veronica ends up on the case to clear Logan’s name, and becomes embroiled in something tracing back to her high school years.
The case and its scope are written to introduce as many familiar characters as possible, in a way that doesn’t alienate those unfamiliar with the series. The film circles around a ten-year high school reunion, and the murder of two classmates ten years apart for the same reason.
The chemistry between Logan and Veronica is tangible, even with Piz in between them. When the tension breaks in the end of the movie, it is a moment for all fans to rejoice for LoVe, one of the original ‘ships of the modern fandoms.
Being a character movie, this film isn’t driven by explosions, car chases and twists that pull the characters along. The movie is a quiet investigative piece, where everyone tells their story until the pieces fall together. There are moments of action that break the long moments of exposition, and there is actually a decent storyline for what could be a final victory lap for the detective.
Kristen Bell plays the detective with a mean tongue and wits to match. When backed into a corner, she uses both as weapons to stay one step ahead, but also in dealing with her father, who may be one of the few people who can keep up with her.
Jason Dohring brings a new side to the smug celebrity of Logan Echolls. In the last ten years, he has joined the military and tried to reform his ways. He is still a drama magnet, when Veronica is needed to clear him of yet another murder charge.
The movie is full of laughs, both at the dialogue and the characters, but also the brief cameos. During one scene, we are treated to not only Justin Long but also Bell’s real life husband Dax Shepherd trying to entice the sleuth to the dance floor.
Being a Kickstarter film, “Veronica Mars” shouldn’t have worked. They asked for $3 million from their fans to create the movie and received $6 million. With a low production cost, one might image the film would suffer for it. But not this movie. By focusing on the characters and sticking with old school detective work, as well as many of the cast members returning as an act of love for the series, it was more than enough to produce a quality film for fans and potential new “marshmallows” alike.
“Veronica Mars” scores an A. It’s smart and has the right tempo when it needs it. It might even prove to studios that smaller, low budget films could work given the right effort. The movie is rated PG-13 for language, drug use, violence and some sexuality.