A long time ago, we used to be friends.
Last year, Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas took to Kickstarter to raise $2 million dollars so he could make a movie to wrap up the story of our favourite teenage detective. They exceeded that expectation & then some, raiding over $5.5 million, with almost 100,000 backers. I didn’t back the project because I wasn’t financially able to back then, but at the rate it was quickly funded, I knew I could spend my dollars in the cinema this year. And that I did! A few months ago I decided to start rewatching the series along with Adam, who’d never seen it. We got through season 1, and then Parks & Recreation took over our viewing lives – oops! So we did the highlights of season 2, and then got about halfway through season 3. (It didn’t end up affecting Adam’s viewing of the movie too much). So come last Thursday, I was pretty excited to get to the cinema and see what Veronica and her Scoobies (see what I did there?) had been up to.
So far, the ratings have been pretty decent. You can read some reviews here to compare to mine, which is more of a personal reactions/thoughts compilation and entirely biased by me being a huge fan of the show. Here’s a good one at Wired, and a couple at the Mary Sue – one from a newbie, and one from a fan. [Edited to add an excellent review from Linda Holmes at NPR that covers many issues I have.] Naturally all have spoilers. Which reminds me –
In case you haven’t seen the movie and care about these sorts of things, I will be talking about spoilers below, so don’t scroll beyond the pretty picture! You’ve been warned.
9 years after we left her in California, Veronica Mars is finishing up her law degree in NYC, about to take the bar. She’s got some fancy career prospects on the line, and lives with her boyfriend Piz who’s now working for NPR. Peachy keen and hunky dory! Then her stupid butt ex-boyfriend Logan gets accused of murder (again.. yep!) and she’s drawn back to Neptune to initially “help him find a good lawyer” but instead ends up slipping into those old comfortable PI shoes (to go with the comfy nostalgic purse we see reappear) and staying longer and longer to help Logan, disappointing Piz to the point of him breaking up with her (not to mention blowing a job offer in a huge way). This was one of the big disappointments of the movie for me – not that I can’t buy Veronica is obsessed with the investigating, and to another extent Logan, but that Piz really got the raw end of the deal with losing the woman he loves – and her not seeming too heartbroken over it, honestly. That’s a bummer. But I guess I’m just “Team Piz” and not “Team Obligatory Psychotic Jackass” 😉 Beyond this, I’m Team Veronica – and although she admits that the life of a PI is obsessive and she’s an addict, I think a lot of her decision to eventually stay in Neptune was also due to her reconnecting with Logan. I wish it’d been a decision without involving either Piz or Logan, but then where would the romantic drama be, eh?
Beyond this, I really enjoyed the movie. It was a great old-school mystery with many layers, as VMars plotlines have always tended to be – and Veronica latches on, gets in deep and won’t stop until she reaches the conclusion. Of course, it’s complicated because Logan has been implicated in the murder of his girlfriend. That guy just trails tragedy ’round, eh? Helpfully, this coincides with the Neptune High 10 year reunion! Lots of familiar faces all around. This is where a lot of nostalgia (and a heaping of fan service) comes in – it’s basically watching a bumper episode of VMars rather than a movie that stands on its own. I kept thinking about how the tv series & movie relate to each other and how a VMars newbie might interact with the movie & its tone (knowledge of the characters being implicit to understanding their relevance of appearing). It reminds me a lot of how Serenity followed Firefly – and how so many people saw & loved Serenity as its own thing, and then sought out Firefly to watch afterward.
As a low-ish budget movie, this did feel like TV made big rather than cinema. But that didn’t lessen my enjoyment in the least. At every appearance of a familiar face, no matter how little their role, I felt joy and connection to the story of old and the one I was currently watching. I loved seeing where Wallace & Mac were at, and that they are still so close to Veronica – Wallace’s reactions to Veronica asking for help were priceless. It was amazing how Dick is the same person, and was hilarious comic relief (along with James Franco’s terrific cameo). When Veronica visits Leo, my head just about burst with how awesome their interaction was (Leo’s SASS!!). Madison Sinclair getting her stupid face punched. Veronica schooling Cliff on law! Principal Van Clemmons, bless his face. There were a lot of HOLY SHIT moments, like Deputy Sacks 😦 And WEEVIL 😦 😦 The shock of Keith being only just pulled out of the car accident. Gia being shot. Oh my gosh. I’m also still trying to get over the weirdness of Logan in that uniform..
I really loved the little throwaway mention from Leo that he thought Veronica had joined the FBI – definitely fan service there, considering the context – this ‘trailer’ for Season 4 of Veronica Mars, the ‘FBI years’, which of course was never realised due to the show being cancelled. In another life, indeed.
Veronica’s sarcasm and fierce personality were still on fire here, despite coming 9 years on from when we saw her last – I appreciated that. I appreciate that she admits she’s flawed but she just wants to do what is right. I think that if she’s working with her Dad again – and maybe Mac?! – with the benefit of some life experience and amazing law school education, she’s gonna be brilliant. I suppose we’ll see. The movie gives an overall sense of foreboding as far as the feeling of Neptune – cops planting evidence, lots of corruption, rich kids still in a position to get away with shit. This didn’t wrap up neatly – I can see they’re maybe angling for a follow up movie to deal with the corruption in the Sherriff’s office, considering Weevil’s bad turn at the end. As damaging as it might be for her personally, Veronica’s choice to stay in Neptune at Mars Investigations will likely be better for Neptune overall. (And maybe, just maybe.. we can get a sense of how Duncan’s doing with his daughter Lilly? There’s got to be a way he and Veronica have kept in touch.. )
I am really itching to rewatch this as soon as possible, to relish in the details, as well as finish up season 3!