Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Veronica Mars Review

Veronica Mars Review
Before we begin, it is absolutely imperative that you know that I never watched a single episode of "Veronica Mars" while it was on television. I can't tell you a single thing about the show, I can't tell you when it began or how long the show lasted. I am completely in the black on all things Veronica Mars. I have no baggage from the show going into this, I have no ideas or theories about anything pertaining to the show. I didn't read up on anything, I went into this movie cold turkey. All I have on Veronica Mars or her mythology is what I saw tonight. Please be sure to understand that as I begin this review.

I have to say that if you want to successfully translate a story from the small screen to the big screen, this is the way to do it. The film opens with a brief yet informative history of the show. We learn about Veronica (Kristen Bell), what she is known for and why she does what she does. For people who watched the show, this will be a great catch-up, but for newcomers like me, it was a great way to affiliate with the characters. We get that Veronica was in high school when her best friend was murdered. We get that she began working with her private-eye father in a way to cope with her pain. We get that the show was about Veronica as a high school private eye. The sequence is handled with insight and humor, and it works very well. I felt I had learned quite a bit about Veronica throughout that tiny history lesson and I was ready and willing to go on whatever adventure was going to be brought to her.

When we meet Veronica again, she has moved out of Neptune, California and is now looking for work in New York City. Yet, she is pulled back to her old hometown when Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), her ex-boyfriend from the show, calls seeking Veronica's help for finding a lawyer. Echolls has been accused of murdering his girlfriend Carrie Bishop (Andrea Estella), whom also attended Neptune High School with Veronica and Logan. Veronica is also dating Piz (Chris Lowell) another Neptune alum who feels unsure about Veronica going back to Neptune, but he knows he can't stop her. Veronica gets so locked up in the mystery of Logan's innocence that she stays to crack it. 

What instantly drew me into the movie was smart everything felt. The script by Rob Thomas (the shows creator) and Diane Ruggiero is very smart. It features a smart mystery, it features smart characters, it features smart humor, it even handles Veronica's rocky romance in a smart way. If you've ever wanted to blend a love triangle and comedy with a mystery mix, look to "Veronica Mars" as a great example of how to pull it off. Again, this maybe riffs from the show, and if the show were still on, I'd be put the entire series on record on my DVR by now. The movie is very well balanced in its genres it dips in, never loosing sight of its goal or context. When its time to laugh, Veronica makes us laugh. When its time for things to get tense, things definitely get tense. Yet it nothing ever feels forced or unnatural. It all feels right.

I can honestly say that I have never been Kristen Bell's biggest admirer, yet after seeing this movie, its quite clear why people watched the show. Bell seems very laid-back and energy-ridden in this movie, acting completely unlike anything else in her resume. She makes us believe in the entire story and the weight of her choices is felt by the audience. The work done by Dohring, Estella, Lowell and Enrico Colantoni (returning as Veronica's private-eye father) all do great work. There are also great cameos by Jaime Lee Curtis, Justin Long, Dax Shepherd, and James Franco. The film's cast does a great job bring this smart script to life and enriches the movie quite a bit.

The use of the cast is also the point of the slightest downfall. The film's story takes place on the same weekend as the Neptune High School Reunion, which gives an excuse to bring many of the principle characters from the show back. While I am sure fans of the show will rejoice, and the cast does well, those of us who didn't watch the show will be a bit confused. We don't gain any emotional weight from these characters, they aren't fleshed out enough for us to care. I wish the film would have taken the time for newcomers to catch up and get to know these characters, as it would have made their inclusion more valuable. Its a glaring problem, just something I would have preferred.

Overall, I think "Veronica Mars" will something to look out for. I don't see how fans of the show won't love this, as it made a true believer out of me. I think newcomers to the story will captivated by what the movie has to offer, the cast and crew really nailed it. The movie also sets up an ending which leaves the door open for more movies. I for one, wouldn't mind watching more.

FINAL GRADE: B+

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