Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Long Time Ago, We Used to be Friends: A Review of the "Veronica Mars" Movie

If you’re anything like us, you’ve been anticipating the big screen debut of our favorite (not so) teenage PI. And last night, we got to journey back to Neptune, CA with Veronica Mars. In the years since the television show’s finale, Veronica has tried to make a new life for herself, but through the film, we see that the more things change, the more they ultimately stay the same. Veronica is drawn back into the world of Neptune in a big way. This provided an opportunity for the film to recreate much of the feel of the show, but in a more grown-up way. Overall, we enjoyed it very much, and it was quite a lot of fun. Returning to Neptune was something that up until very recently, “Veronica Mars” fans could have only dreamed of. The fact that the dream has become a reality has been kind of surreal. Anyway, read on to find out our take on the film and where all our favorite Neptune denizens are today!

At the start of the film, we see Veronica interviewing for a first year Associate position with a big New York law firm, six weeks away from taking the Bar. She’s been dating Piz for the last year. And then she learns the news that former flame, Logan Echolls, is the prime suspect in yet another murder. This the victim is his pop star girlfriend, Carrie, who was a classmate of Logan and Veronica’s back in the day. Veronica goes back to Neptune just to help Logan find an attorney. But of course, the more she digs into the dead diva’s life, the more she can’t help but get involved. Against her will, Veronica is dragged to her 10-year high school reunion where it seems not a lot has changed. Madison Sinclair is still snotty, and Logan can’t help but get into a fight over Veronica’s honor. Since Veronica is with Piz these days, he gets into the fight as well, coming out much worse for wear than Logan. And in the long run, Piz and Veronica part ways when it becomes clear she will always choose Logan.

In her attempts to find out who really killed the artist formerly known as Carrie Bishop, Veronica comes up against the increasingly corrupt control of the younger Dan Lamb, who is now Neptune’s Sheriff. Illegal stop and frisks and trumped up charges are par for the course these days. As Veronica digs deeper into Carrie’s past, she learns that there’s a secret floating around out there and someone will do anything to silence those in the know. While Veronica hunts for the truth about Carrie, her dad tries to find out who planted evidence on Weevil (who is married with a family and been an ex-PCH-er for a decade). It’s unclear if Keith’s investigation or Veronica’s leads to the most bloodshed, because Keith ends up in the hospital and Deputy Sacks ends up dead. As Veronica tries to deal with her dad being in the ICU, she and Logan reconnect on a carnal level (finally). From there, Veronica is on the war path, and it leads her right to the real killer. With her typical amount of pluck and creative problem solving, she takes down the killer, unravels the mystery that led to Carrie’s death, and ruins Sheriff Lamb’s career. Now if she can just hold out for the next 180 days until Logan is back from his latest Navy deployment, things will be hunky dory. And while she waits, she decides that her place is in Neptune, solving cases and being with the ones she loves most.

We felt like the film was both a love letter to the fans and an original storyline that was easy enough to follow for the non-viewer (or casual viewer). It wasn’t complete fan service, but it was clear that the creative team was definitely mindful of what the fans would want to see (especially so since fans were responsible for the record-breaking Kickstarter campaign that made the film possible). Veronica Mars wouldn’t be complete without the voice-overs we love so much. And we had a good laugh at some of the cameos, like James Franco. Aside from one or two characters mentioned below, none of the returning cast felt like it was extraneous or out of place. Rob Thomas crafted a storyline that made sense to bring everyone back together. The high school reunion was really the perfect plot device to pack in as many cameos from the old cast as possible, and the creative team did not disappoint on that front. The crowning moment of bringing back the old cast had to have been when Veronica got the chance to punch out her old high school nemesis, Madison Sinclair.

While, as you can see, we overall loved the film, we wouldn’t be very good (amateur) critics if we didn’t find something to, you know, critique. There were just three things that really stood out to us. The first was the sideplot involving Weevil. Weevil’s been on the straight and narrow for a decade, with a wife and kid. On his way home one day, he sees some PCH-ers terrorizing a woman in an SUV. That woman happens to be Celeste Kane, mother of Veronica’s long-ago ex-boyfriend, Duncan. Weevil raps on the SUV window to ask if he can help, and Celeste freaks out and shoots him. The Sheriff’s Department plants a gun on Weevil’s unconscious body and tries to say that Celeste shot him in self defense. The whole ordeal leads Weevil to reunite with the PCH-ers, which can’t mean good things for the future. This subplot felt rather extraneous, but to be fair, it was a decent example of showing versus telling when it comes to the extent of the corruption in the Sheriff’s Department.

Additionally, Veronica’s string of bad life choices in the film kind of stressed us out. Maybe it’s personal hang-ups due to the fact that we’re both non-practicing lawyers who still have to deal with mountainous student loan bills every month. Veronica gives up a job offer from a huge law firm that would have paid her quite a lot of money. She moves from a huge city brimming with opportunity to a sleepy, corrupt Southern California town. She gives up a stable relationship with Piz for a return to the drama with Logan (not that we really mind that last part all that much). Some of the editorial choices saddened us a little, too. As Veronica and Piz are heading to grab a cab early on in the film, a busker is playing a version of “We Used to be Friends.” It was painful. And we were a little disappointed that during the reunion scene when they are remembering classmates who didn’t make it to the reunion, they didn’t have a picture of LIly Kane.

One of the biggest plot points fans were hoping for with this film, was some sort of resolution to the unfinished epic love story of Logan and Veronica. And Rob Thomas did not disappoint. Sure, Veronica started out the film in a relationship with Piz. It was a stable, drama-free relationship but as Wallace points out, Veronica is a drama magnet. And how! She’s in Neptune less than a day when she starts swooning over Logan’s chiseled cheeks (and seeing him in his dress whites upon arrival was a shock that got the crowd at the theater shouting and swooning) and wondering if there’s anything there between them. Slowly but surely, Logan shows that he’s matured enough to be a more stable personality in her life. While the inevitable hook-up was not under the best circumstances (Veronica was vulnerable after her dad was attacked), we leave them in a decent place. She just needs to wait out the next 180 days until he comes home.

While a sequel is not an assured thing (although there is a magic number the studio has set that would greenlight a follow-up), there certainly is enough material and plot threads left hanging to bring these two Marshmallows back for more. We won’t be without more new adventures for very long anyway. Rob Thomas is starting a novel series following our favorite Neptune inhabitants. The first book comes out on March 25th.

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