Thursday, March 20, 2014

Veronica Mars in theaters and available online now

If you don't already know what or who Veronica Mars is, this movie isn't for you. But maybe you've heard a bit of the buzz. After all, within hours, Kickstarter raised the minimum funds (two million dollars) from fans of the three-season TV show, which aired 2004-2007. I was a latecomer to the show, binge-watching the first season and a half a couple years ago and then binge-watching the rest of season 2 and all of season 3 in the past couple months before the movie was released. I only stopped the first time because...well, I'd overdosed on it. All that binge-watching and overdosing is because Veronica Mars is simply addictive.

Veronica Mars is the name of a girl who in the TV show was just a teenager, the daughter of a private investigator, trying to solve the mystery of her best friend's murder. In the movie, released ten years after the show first aired, she is ten years older, returning to the seedy, rich town she escaped from in order to help a former boyfriend accused of murder.

For old fans of Veronica Mars, the movie is all you could hope for: same cast, same setting, same detective work, same romantic interests. It's all there, complete with inside jokes. It's basically a glorified episode of the show, and that's where both its strength and weakness lie. If you loved the show, this is more of the same, just set a few years later. But the crime the show would have taken a whole season to solve, the movie solves in fewer than two hours. A bit of the mystery and lead-up and careful unraveling is lost. It's almost too fast and too shallow. The show had time to pull back layer after layer of the town of Neptune's depravity. Veronica had to chase all sorts of bunny trails before she got to the bottom of a crime. In the movie, she's a lawyer who hasn't done any private investigating since she left Neptune years ago, but she dives back in and solves this crime in a matter of days. It's not that it's unbelievable. Veronica Mars is just that good at what she does. But the movie doesn't provide enough time to get the viewer invested in theories and characters.

As far as morality is concerned, Veronica Mars has always been a show about the worst of humanity being rightly or wrongly accused and Veronica getting to the heart of the truth, no matter who is involved. There are some great messages to be gleaned from the show, but there are also moments when the characters are not good role models. The show contains drinking, drugs, sex (both the socially acceptable and the not, though I'm of the opinion none of it is really acceptable), murder, violence, and a slew of other vices. If you've watched any cop shows, there's nothing you haven't seen before...just better packaged with a smart, sassy teen girl (the show, not the movie). The movie is rated PG-13 for sexuality, drug references, violence, and language.

All said and done, this movie is a giant thank-you card to its fans with room left open for more of Veronica Mars in the future. Maybe not a movie, but the story has plenty of potential to keep going in other forms. Three stars.

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