Veronica Mars (2014)

veronica_mars By: Matt Conway (Two Beers) –
How many beers do you recommend for this movie?
1 Beer! A Toast! Great Movie!2 Beers! Good Movie!3 Beers! Okay Movie!4 Beers! Mediocre Movie!5 Beers! Awful Movie!6-Pack! Bad movie! Do not be Sober!

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Even the best aspects of life can come to an abrupt ending. That is certainly the case for television these days, as more and more television companies are pulling their shows off air. While most of the time this is for failed television shows that failed to hit with any audience, some of these television shows have lived on to be cult classics in a way. Everyone has their own lists, but some of my personal choices would be Better of Ted, Sports Night, Undeclared, and perhaps the most famous of them all, Arrested Development. 

As fans of the original property, we all dream of seeing our favorite series continued. Sometimes though, this dream turns into a nightmare. Even though it has its fans, the return of Arrested Development was nowhere near the level of the original, and was personally a huge disappointment for me as a big fan. Trying to return the favor back to their fans, Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas turned his way to Kickstarter to try to give the fans a great finale. To my surprise, it seems like Thomas honored his fans with a solid flick.

How Season 4 made me feel…

 Veronica Mars is back! Everyone’s favorite teenage private eye is now an adult, and called back into the line of duty when her ex Logan Echolls is accused of murder.

A Toast 

 As someone who seldom watched the show, this film sequel does a great job of giving the audience a clear perspective on what  Veronica Mars is. The film wisely begins with a flashback of sorts, showing us the key events that the audience needs to know about the film, without telling everything about the show. Personally I dug that because it lets audiences revisit the show without it being completely spoiled.

 From the start, the film establishes a real sense of itself in a very confident way. Veronica Mars as a movie carries a certain swagger like its character, as it pops off one-liners with such an ease. The one to thank here is Rob Thomas, who was seemingly able to translate the too cool for school energy that the television show had on the small screen to the big screen, which is quite the impressive feat.

Not quite cool enough to pee pants though...
Not quite cool enough to pee pants though…

Rob Thomas not only should be patted on the back for making a smooth transition from the small screen to film, but Thomas in general does a great job in his directorial debut. Thomas nails all of the technical aspects of directing, such as keeping the film moving at good pace and having a hand in making each shot look quite good, while being able to manage all of these different characters and concepts. There are still some rough around the edges aspects about the direction, but this is certainly a promising start for Thomas.

Kristin Bell has always been to me someone who was just kind of there in a lot of movies, but now I fully understand why so many are big supporters of her. Bell’s depiction of Veronica Mars not only brings all the charm that one would expect from the character, but also a great deal of depth and heart. Bell is able to build on the character throughout the film, showing her insecurities and other faults, that made her feel much more genuine.

You-Again-Movie
Admit it, though, Kristin Bell fans, not even you can defend this movie!

Bell’s performance is put to the test in the third act. Without spoiling, some major events occur that could lead to the viewer gathering a negative opinion about Veronica and her actions. Instead of looking down on her though, I rooted for the character, understanding her decisions. As Veronica, Bell creates a well-rounded character, who, like the story, has a few surprises that I did not see coming.

Aside from Bell, Veronica Mars features a lot of solid performances. Regulars from the show like Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, Chris Lowell, and Tina Majorino all do a good job in their reprised roles. Also, the film features a lot of cameos that came in at the perfect time and added a lot of laughs to the film. I warn you now, do not check IMDb before watching the movie, because there are so many great surprises from these cameos.

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Not quite as memorable as Bill Murray in Zombieland though…

As far as dialogue goes, Thomas and Diane Ruggiero’s script features a lot of sharp dialogue. There are a lot of great and surprisingly original one-liners to be found throughout the screenplay, and Veronica Mars fans will no doubt quote some of these lines in the future. Although the screenplay excels with the one-liners, it also has its fair share of problems.

Two Beers

For the most part, the mystery in Veronica Mars is largely disappointing. Instead of really trying something new in the story department, Thomas and Ruggiero write a generic and lackluster mystery. Even the set-up for it, the murder of a famous singer who went to school with Veronica, is really not an interesting set up. And even when the killer is finally revealed in the end, I really was not that impressed because the set-up for this whole mystery just did not come together.

Due to the lackluster mystery, the film is often times very uneven. While the first two acts are really enjoyable, the third act becomes much less so largely because it’s focused on the resolution of the mystery. Gone are all the fun jokes and character moments, and instead we get the reveal with a rather lame action setpiece. It’s just disappointing that the film largely abandoned what made it work so well in the finale.

Verdict 

Despite the mystery in the film largely being lackluster, Veronica Mars is a cunning and clever crowd-pleaser, giving enjoyment to Veronica Mars fans and non-fans alike. Now, how about we get a Kickstarter campaign going for an Arrested Development movie?!

 

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: for each cameo

Do a Shot: during the somewhat awkward sex scene

Take a Drink: for each red herring

Do a Shot: if you guess the killer correctly

About Matt Conway

I love movies and sports and run on sentences. You can find me at a basketball court, the local theater, or napping on a couch somewhere.

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