It was a long wait for Veronica Mars fans, but finally this past weekend, the movie premiered in theaters around the world. As a television series, Veronica Mars ran for three seasons in 2004-2007. The show followed plucky teenaged investigator, Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell), as she solved cases and generally caused trouble for all criminals in the fictional seaside town of Neptune, California. Veronica made plenty of enemies in her time at Neptune High, as well as her brief stint at Hearst College. However, it’s Veronica’s faithful friends–or, you know, people she coerced into doing her a favor–who helped her survive both high school and freshman year of college: her father Keith (Enrico Colantoni), her best friend Wallace Fennel (Percy Daggs III), Cindy “Mac” Mackenzie (Tina Majorino), Eli “Weevil” Navarro (Francis Capra), Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), Stosh “Piz” Piznarski (Chris Lowell), and of course Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen).
Last year, Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to fund a movie continuation of Veronica’s story. Since the show was cancelled after only three seasons–and the final episode “The Bitch Is Back” left fans with so many questions–The Veronica Mars Movie Project quickly raised the money. In four hours and 24 minutes, the project raised $1 million; in less than 10 hours, the project reached it’s goal of $2 million. On April 12, 2013, when the campaign ended, over 90,000 backers had pledged over $5.7 million for Veronica Mars. On March 14, the film premiered in theaters and fans were able to revisit their favorite teenaged private eye one more time. Though the movie may not appeal to those who failed to watch the original series, it was everything fans could have wanted (and possibly a bit more).
Attention: there will be MAJOR SPOILERS in this post.
Although any fan will tell you that the characters are what made Veronica Mars a cult hit, the interesting cases helped to ground the show. Since the movie was a continuation of Veronica’s story, of course there would be another case. Even though, as she says early in the film, “I don’t really do that anymore,” Veronica finds herself dragged back into the world of investigating when her ex-boyfriend, Logan, is accused of murdering his pop star girlfriend. The movie takes a series of twists and turns that include–but are not limited to–imitating news anchors, breaking and entering, blackmail, a cover up, an incompetent sheriff, surveillance equipment, and NSA-style hacking. It’s a familiar procedural storyline that any Veronica Mars fan will recognize, but it works to hold the plot of the film together. Plus, there is comfort in familiarity, and it was fun to see Veronica on a case again.
Revisiting Neptune, California
One of the best aspects of Veronica Mars was that every single one of the original cast members came back, plus many of the recurring and minor characters. Aside from those mentioned above, there was Vinnie Van Lowe (Ken Marino), Deputy Sacks (Brandon Hillock), Gia Goodman (Krysten Ritter), Leo D’Amato (Max Greenfield), Madison Sinclair (Amanda Noret), Cliff McCormack (Daran Norris), Principal Van Clemmons (Duane Daniels), Corny (Charles Latibeaudiere), and Celeste Kane (Lisa Thornhill). It was great to see what happened to the whole Neptune crowd, not just the major characters, and everyone’s paths made sense (except for Logan’s, to be honest).
Veronica Mars revisited all of the characters from the original series, and it’s only appropriate that Neptune be included as a character itself. In the opening voiceover, Veronica says that when the class war hits, Neptune will be ground zero. Throughout the show, Neptune was known as a town without a middle class, and more often than not that caused a lot of conflict in the original series. In the film, Neptune has only gotten worse: a more corrupt sheriff’s department, stop-and-frisk policies that are even scarier than those in New York City, and a lazier, more incompetent sheriff–played by Jerry O’Connell.
It’s appropriate that Veronica attended her ten year high school reunion in the film because that’s exactly how it felt for fans: a reunion of everything they loved about the series.
Team Piz vs. Team Logan
One of the major arcs of the show’s third season was Veronica’s relationship with Logan, and then her relationship with Piz. When the film opens, Veronica is dating Piz, causing some anger within fans who think Veronica is destined to–and should–end up with Logan. Although love triangles may be tired in Hollywood these days, especially on television, the Veronica Mars love triangle never feels too cliche. Logan and Piz represent two sides of Veronica, two different lives that she wants for herself, and inevitably, Veronica finds herself returning to Neptune, to investigating, and to Logan.
Although I have always been a staunch supporter of Logan and Veronica, I actually found myself inching toward Team Piz after the movie–along with other fans like EW’s Lindsey Behr. In the ten years since we saw all our favorite Veronica Mars characters, Piz has certainly turned into the perfectly understanding, trusting, and mature boyfriend many thought he could have been in the third season. When Veronica stays in Neptune to help Logan rather than return to New York in order to take a lawyer job and meet Piz’s parents, I was disappointed. The moment is truly heartbreaking:
“That loyalty, or friendship, or whatever it is that made you have to stay in Neptune…I wish that same feeling made you get on the plane. I have to go let my mother off the hook. She’s very concerned that her blow-out is going to flatten before you get here.”
However, no Veronica Mars fan can deny the chemistry between Logan and Veronica. Their love story is epic. You know, spanning years and continents, lives ruined, bloodshed Epic.
In-jokes, Fanservice, and References Abound
The Veronica Mars movie was a treat for fans because so much of the film referenced the original series–you know, the one that amassed a powerful cult following (not that kind of cult, though). Hypable’s Karen Rought put together a substantial list of ten references, in-jokes, and easter eggs from the film, but as fans watch and rewatch Veronica Mars multiple times, many fanservice moments are bound to be added. My favorite was when Veronica reunites with Leo, and he mentions that he had heard Veronica was working for the FBI, which was a reference to the season 4 pitch to The CW that wasn’t able to win the show another season.
Additionally, for those that remember every moment of the television series, the film recreates a scene from “Lord of the Pi’s” which shows Veronica imitating a newswoman in an attempt to get information from the sheriff. There were, also, two notable phrases that were integrated into the film: Veronica’s “People say I’m a marshmallow” (which doubles as a reference to the fans, who call themselves Marshmallows) and Keith’s “Who’s your daddy?” which is thrown in at the end. Plus, if you stuck around until the end of the credits, fans were treated to another daily dose of wisdom from Logan. There were plenty of moments like these sprinkled throughout the film. They added to the enjoyment for fans, and are sure to become many fans’ favorite moments from Veronica Mars.
Veronica Mars Herself
Both the show and the movie are named after her, so it makes sense that if there’s only one reason fans love either it’s because of Veronica–as well as Bell. Veronica is the same tiny, blonde, annoying meddler that she was and always will be. The quippy, snarky personality that fans have come to expect from Veronica Mars is fully intact and Bell makes her shine even brighter on the big screen. Although many of the other characters in the ensemble cast–or even the more minor characters–are beloved by fans, it’s Veronica that holds the whole cast together. You would think that after six years out of character, Bell might forget how to play Veronica, or Thomas might forget how to write Veronica, but the movie proves that’s just not true. Veronica is back and better than ever.
While, we’ll always love Veronica, what was particularly special about the Veronica Mars film was her journey. In the opening voiceover of the film, Veronica recaps the original television series, as well as what she’s been up to since then. She left Neptune to study psychology, then pursued a law degree. When we catch up with her, she’s applying for lawyer jobs and hasn’t been back to Neptune in nine years. However, when she gets called back by Logan needing her help, she looks around at the town and the people she only barely recognizes. The entire experience makes her reevaluate her goals, her ideals, and her direction in life. It’s an interesting revelation for Veronica, and the fans are right there experiencing it with her.
“I convinced myself winning meant getting out, but in what world do you get to leave the ring and declare victory? This is where I belong: in the fight. It’s who I am.”
Veronica Mars was everything I had hoped for in a film continuation of one of my favorite television series. Now the only question remains: is this it? Or are we going to see another theatrical installment of Veronica’s story? After a promising first weekend–Veronica Mars raked in $2 million in its opening weekend–according to Entertainment Weekly, sequel talks could be starting soon. At least, if there isn’t another movie, we weren’t left on a horrible cliffhanger again, though I’m still keeping my fingers crossed.