Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: Veronica Mars

The Kickstarter campaign that raised the money for this movie broke all sorts of records at the time, and we were glad of that because all four of us were fans of the VERONICA MARS TV series. After that splash of coverage about the funding, though, the movie was made, released to theaters, and promptly vanished without a trace. That's not uncommon in this age when there don't seem to be any more modest successes, only mega-blockbusters and mega-flops. But now that VERONICA MARS is out on DVD, we watched it anyway, of course, and as a fan of the series, I thought it was excellent.

The movie takes place 10 years after the end of the series and picks up nearly all the characters. Veronica is a lawyer about to go to work for a prestigious firm in New York. Her dad Keith is still a PI back in seedy Neptune, California. And her former boyfriend Logan, the son of a movie star, has joined the Navy and become a fighter pilot. Unfortunately, while he's home on leave, Logan is arrested for the murder of his pop star girlfriend, also a former classmate of Veronica's at Neptune High. When she hears about that, what do you think she's going to do? Stay in New York and get rich as a high-powered lawyer? Or turn her back on all that and go back to Neptune to find the real killer and clear Logan's name?

I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to reveal that Veronica goes home and wades right into that murder case.

This is great stuff, pure hardboiled private eye fiction complete with smart-aleck voiceover (which Kristen Bell as Veronica could pull off even when she was supposed to be a high school kid), hostility from the corrupt cops, and a complex plot with a mixture of suspects from both high society and low. There's also a lot of humor and fine dialogue, including some in-jokes that are satisfyingly obscure. It's rare when you can get together almost the entire cast of a TV show, plus the same creative team behind the camera, and make a "reunion episode" (which is basically what VERONICA MARS is) and have it seem like they've never missed a beat and have been working together all along.

I can see how people who never watched the series, or tried and didn't like it, might not care for this movie. For me, though, it was two hours with old friends, executed with near-perfection. The ending is set up for sequels, and I'm really hoping they come about. In the meantime, if you're a fan and want to catch up with what's been going on in Neptune, you definitely need to watch this one.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I missed both the series and the movie but am determined to eventually catch up with it.

Peter Brandvold said...

I watched this series only last year, in rerun, and loved it! I saw the movie a few weeks ago and reacted exactly as you did, James. I was hesitant to rent it from Redbox when I saw it because I thought, since I'd heard nothing about it, it must be bad. It was the opposite of bad. I was really impressed. It's too bad that only the mega-blockbusters get press anymore. I wonder how many other really good movies we're missing…or that aren't even getting made in favor of crap that's made for 14-year-olds.!

Anonymous said...

We have friends who were involved in the Kickstarter campaign and got various "extras" (depending on how much they gave) but we just watched the movie from Redbox. Fun stuff.

Jeff M.

Todd Mason said...

In heavy rotation on pay cable, the film...the youth quaking cable station Pivot is running the series, along with BUFFY, its fantasticated older sister. (And FARSCAPE and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and so on.)

Jeff Flugel said...

I was a casual fan of the series (really liked season one, but have only sampled bits of the 2nd and 3rd seasons), but I also really dug the movie. As you say, it's about as successful as is possible for a 10-years-later reunion, and expertly taps into the vibe and characters from the TV show and extends their stories in new and interesting directions. The mystery plot is good, too.

A.J. Wright said...

Good to see another gathering of VM fans. A few notes. The film didn't really disappear; the VM fan community worked it well and even the NYT reviewed it. Warners released it in only a 2 or 3 hundred theaters, so there was never a serious attempt at theatrical release. Catch the first novel: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line. Pretty good & catches up characters etc not in the film Another novel due in January.