Warning: Some minor spoilers for the Veronica Mars movie, which saw its widest release today, are discussed within this review.
Unless you’ve been under a rock for this last year, you’ve heard the story by now about how fan funding exceeded initial goals and expectations to make a movie based on Veronica Mars a reality. The original TV series and cult favorite aired on UPN and then The CW between 2004 and 2007 and put its lead actress, Kristen Bell, on the map. In the pre-KSiteTV days, I covered the show pretty heavily. Bell and the show’s creator Rob Thomas tried for years to give the fans what they want with a movie, but it wasn’t until last year’s Kickstarter campaign that it came to fruition.
Truth be told, I wasn’t sure I wanted a Veronica Mars movie. The third season was a bit of a letdown, and the Veronica Mars: FBI pilot attempt at a fourth season really didn’t inspire any confidence — mostly because it lost a lot of what made the show what made the show special in the first place: the supporting cast. Even Season 3 had its moments of no Mac, Wallace, or Weevil, and it was a bit disappointing because of missing those key characters. Thankfully, I can say that the Veronica Mars film embraces the world of Veronica, 09ers and all. Maybe with fans funding, the goal was to be sure to include all of the fan favorites, but for me as a viewer who loved the first season especially, that was appreciated.
I also admit that from a very young age I LOVED “reunion movies” where the casts of old favorites get back together. Nowadays, “reunion movies” are rare with the updates usually only coming in the form of complete sequel series (see: Dallas or Girl Meets World). While watching Veronica Mars in a theater would be a fun group experience with a bunch of other fans, a “reunion movie” really what this is, and I don’t think it’s an insult to suggest it. I felt the same way with the X-Files sequel movie. It felt like watching a really long episode of Veronica Mars. And, again, that’s not a bad thing; just what I got out of it.
The mystery behind the movie had some surprises – although I do wish the original series’ Carrie Bishop, Leighton Meester, could have been included. Characters show up that I was not expecting to see, and there were a lot of callbacks. I don’t necessarily agree that someone who was not a fan of the original series would totally “get” it — but if you did enjoy the show at any time, there was a lot to enjoy and remind you of times gone by. Even Wallace and Veronica sitting in the outside courtyard of Neptune High hit up some pangs of nostalgia. But, going back to the surprise factor, there were at least three moments where I legitimately jumped from my seat as a result of not seeing something coming.
The other thing I couldn’t see coming, and perhaps the most controversial thing I’ll say in this whole review? The movie made me feel for Piz. He’s kind of the whipping boy of the Veronica Mars fandom but you could leave this movie thinking “you know, this guy is actually kind of right, and Veronica is actually not that nice to him.”
Friends who know my feelings on what happened with the show know I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t genuinely mean it, but the movie left me wanting to see more Veronica Mars. Not a lot of it, and not necessarily in theaters, but would it be possible to get a short-run revival on Netflix or The CW or something, kind of like 24 and Heroes are doing? I’d like to see what happens in Neptune next, and in saying that, I guess the film was a success. I think it helped to have a few years away from Veronica, with the events of the series in the rear view mirror, where we can see a Veronica a few years out who isn’t exactly the same person we saw before… or perhaps, has been repressing that inner Veronica for so long. I liked that.
So, in conclusion: If you’re missing the world of Veronica Mars and Neptune, you’ll enjoy it. I’m not sure I’d recommend the film to a newcomer or to someone just now jumping on, but the first three seasons are available in multiple forms and on the Pivot channel if you’d like some catch-up.