It is a pleasant surprise when something you look forward to turns out as well or better than anticipated. Veronica Mars was a three-season drama about a teenage, Nancy Drew-like detective played by Kristin Bell. Direct, adorable and fearless, in the first season Veronica solved the mystery of her best friend’s murder. That first season was one of the most tightly plotted, suspenseful seasons of any TV show ever, with an explosive and satisfying payoff at the end. Subsequent seasons were excellent, but didn’t quite live up to the promise of the first, mostly because of Network creative interference. It never was a ratings hit.
Now, thanks to Kickstarter, the Veronica Mars movie is a real thing. Veronica is drawn back to her hometown of Neptune, CA to help her old boyfriend Logan (Jason Dohring), who is accused of murdering his girlfriend. This happens to coincide with her 10-year high school reunion, an event she swore to avoid but manages to crash anyway. Veronica renews all of her previous relationships, and luckily her father, private detective Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni), is around to warn her off the case. The Colantoni/Bell father/daughter chemistry is one of the best features of the TV show and is a wonderful component of the film. It rings true as a loving father/daughter relationship. Just as in real life, Mars offers his daughter advice from his life experience and wisdom, which she promptly ignores. And pays the price.
Creator and writer Rob Thomas’s script is witty and funny, with a nice twisty plot and some great one-liners. Veronica is a smart, strong and independent leading character, with close friends and an exceptional support system. She doesn’t always make the right choices. However, when she is forced into a corner she manages to solve the mystery and battle the bad guy on her own. The ending leaves the story open for many more Veronica Mars adventures, a thing I hope happens on a regular basis. Finally, the movie is worth seeing for the James Franco cameo alone. Franco has a few scenes playing himself that bring the house down, and are probably worth the price of a movie ticket by themselves.
Rating: **** out of 5 stars