Veronica Mars

Directed By: Rob Thomas

Starring: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Krysten Ritter, Ryan Hansen, Francis Capra, Percy Daggs III, Chris Lowell, Tina Majorino, and Enrico Colantoni

Networks can be cruel when it comes to scheduling their primetime lineups.  We've all had television shows that were gone too soon courtesy of that greedy old cancellation bear.  For me, shows that come to mind are ABC's endlessly inventive fantasy murder procedural Pushing Daisies or NBC's little show that could Chuck.  Since the dawn of television some decades ago, cancellation has been the equivalent of a funeral for a television show.  In recent years, things have changed thanks to crowd-funding.  If there's enough money behind a show from outside the studio system, it can survive, but in a different form.  It can survive as a movie.  That's exactly what we're seeing with this weekend's Veronica Mars.

It's been nine years since the end of the show.  Having left Neptune, California and moved to New York City, Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) is in a steady relationship with boyfriend Stosh "Piz" Piznarski (Chris Lowell).  She's got a burgeoning career as a high-powered attorney.  She has everything in life that a career as a private sleuth could not offer.  Veronica is a marshmallow living the high life.  When her high school classmate Carrie Bishop (Andrea Estella), who's known to the world as singer Bonnie DeVille, is found electrocuted in her bathtub, life in New York just doesn't sound as interesting anymore.  It doesn't help that her ex-boyfriend Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) is the prime suspect of the murder investigation.  Soon after learning the news, Veronica is on a plane headed straight for Neptune.  It's actually quite a timely move given that her 10-year high school reunion is on the horizon.  It's the life of a private sleuth for her, minus the pirate pride.

Before I get bashed by diehard fans for what I'm about to write, I must put out a disclaimer.  I didn't watch Veronica Mars during its original run.  I've sparingly caught episodes on Amazon Instant Video to bone up for the movie.  I don't come to this review with the same enthusiasm as a fan of the show.  That being said, Veronica Mars is a decent piece of cinema.  Inextricably linked to the television series, Thomas's film will always feel more akin to a TV movie than a feature film.  Nonetheless, it's good entertainment.  Full of colorful characters and fueled by a solid story, Veronica Mars is a fun homage to a show that was gone too soon and also a new beginning for a beloved character.

Time has passed since Veronica Mars aired, and Rob Thomas doesn't have to keep the show PG-13.  Kristen Bell has clearly evolved into quite a ferocious actress since the show concluded.  Look no further than her character Jeanie on Showtime's House of Lies for proof.  Keeping her caged as just an older version of the beloved teen sleuth is a mistake.  Bell can really deliver some caustic, biting sarcasm on screen, but Thomas unleashes her only sparingly.  Spicing things up a bit and letting Kristen Bell loose wouldn't have hurt the movie.  Still, thanks to Bell and her robust supporting cast, we manage to get some solid performances on screen.

I'm sure the diehard fans loved the movie.  Like a junkie, however, they won't be satisfied with just one more taste of the good stuff.  I'm confident Veronica Mars will be back on the big screen sometime down the road given the enthusiasm of this film's backers.  Crowd-funding has changed the game, and we'll be back in Neptune at some point.  Veronica Mars gets a 0.06% rating.  Have a few glasses of Chardonnay with this one.