NOTE: This overall review of Veronica Mars the series and movie is spoiler-free, touching briefly on main story arcs, but going into no specific details.
The main cast of Veronica Mars (season 3)
On March 22nd, in an effort to take more advantage of my Amazon Prime account, I decided to pick a tv show I’d never watched and start going through it. Numerous friends had told me that I would like Veronica Mars, so I watched the pilot. 27 days, 66 episodes, and a Kickstarter-funded movie later, all I can think is “How in the world did I not watch this show when it was on the air?!”
Veronica Mars is a ridiculously good series. The basic premise is that Veronica (Kristen Bell) is the daughter of former county Sheriff Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni), who opens up a private investigation agency after being wrongfully ousted out of the Sheriff’s office of Neptune, California. Veronica works for her father on his cases, while also taking on cases from her fellow classmates at high school. The writing is sharp, witty, and funny. At the same time, the material covered is surprisingly serious, deep, and dark, especially for a show that originally aired on UPN (finishing it’s 3-season run on The CW after UPN and The WB merged). Some of the larger story arcs deal with topics such as murder, rape, and paternity.
The superb writing is only made better with an equally amazing ensemble cast. The father/daughter relationship between Keith and Veronica is very genuine and believable. Fleshed out with both friends and enemies of Veronica and Keith at both the high school and the Sheriff’s department, everyone in the cast plays their role as naturally as if they were cast to play themselves. You can tell these people love working together by how effortlessly they make it all look so real.
The main ensemble also had a very impressive list of guest stars, many who would go on to become more famous in future Rob Thomas projects like Party Down (most notably are Adam Scott, Jane Lynch and Ken Marino). In one of the later episodes, even Paul Rudd makes an appearance (I swear he is in just about every movie and tv show EVER).
Something I found very interesting about the show, was that with a relatively large ensemble cast, you could go multiple episodes without seeing a member of the main cast. There was no effort to force someone into an episode who didn’t need to be for the purpose of giving an actor screen time or stroking their ego. It’s something I never really noticed in a series before (it’s very possible this happens, but it’s also very rare that I’m watching multiple episodes of a show in a row to notice this type of thing).
After season 3 took Veronica to her freshman year of college and ended on a minor cliffhanger in 2007, the show was not renewed for a 4th season, leaving the ending we had very unsatisfying. I found a 12 minute “season 4 pilot” on youtube (that I believe was an extra on the season 3 dvd box set) that jumps into the future a few years to Veronica’s first day at the FBI. It was kind of interesting, but at the same time had a completely new cast, and felt more like a spin-off than a new season of the same show. I can see why it never made it past a 12 minute pilot honestly.
Jump 6 years into the future to March 13th, 2013. Rob Thomas launched a Kickstarter campaign for a crowd-funded Veronica Mars movie. The $2 million goal for this project was met in 11 hours, and at the end of the campaign, had earned $5,702,153 from 91,585 contributors. One year later, on March 14th, 2014, the Veronica Mars movie had a very limited release in theaters and was available on VOD.
Since my marathon of the series took place after the movie’s release, I was able to simply watch the movie on Amazon Instant the day after I finished the series. As such, my opinion of it may vary greatly from fans who have been waiting for this to happens since the show’s cancellation in 2007.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie. I thought it was good, but not great. It felt like a long episode of the show, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Completely scrapping the FBI concept of the season 4 pilot, the movie takes place with Veronica having just finished Law School. She is interviewing for jobs, when she gets a call from ex-boyfriend Logan (Jason Dohring), who needs her to come home to Neptune, California to help clear his name of a murder he swears he didn’t commit. This also happens to be the same weekend as her 10 year high school reunion, and almost everyone who was on the series makes at least an appearance in the movie.
All the chemistry that made the series so great was also very clear in the movie, as everyone involved easily got back into their roles. If you were a fan of the series, you will absolutely enjoy the movie. If you’ve never seen it before, you might like it as a stand-alone feature, but a lot will go over your head not knowing everyone’s back story.
Without spoiling anything, I think my favorite part of the movie was the final monologue. There were hints of the concept the entire film, but that monologue just seemed like the icing on a cake of a good story, both wrapping up the story in a satisfying (though very different from the series) ending, while leaving things open for more adventures in the future as well.
Veronica Mars definitely won the Kickstarter game. The question now really is if Warner Brothers believes enough in it to bankroll a sequel. If not, can fans be counted on for a second time? After falling in love with the series, I can honestly say I would have no issues contributing to my very first Kickstarter campaign to see another adventure from Veronica and company!