*** out of ****
Veronica Mars was a television series which ran from 2004 to 2007. The title character, played by Kristen Bell, was a teenage sleuth who worked for her father's detective agency. I didn't watch the television series of Veronica Mars when it aired but I was aware of it. Still, I went into this film not knowing what to really expect. It turns out to be a modestly good serio-comedy mystery.
Bell returns as Mars in the movie, which takes place ten years after the series ended. Veronica returns to her hometown - the fictional town of Neptune, California - to solve the murder of an old classmate, Bonnie DeVille (Andrea Estella), who had become a pop star. Solving the crime will also exonerate Veronica's ex-boyfriend, Logan (Jason Dohring), but Veronica's dad (Enrico Colantoni) isn't too thrilled that his daughter is falling back into old habits. Instead, he thinks she should be aggressively pursuing a lucrative job at a posh law firm. Conveniently, Veronica is back in town just in time for her high school reunion, so there is an almost unending cast of suspects.
The film, directed by series creator Rob Thomas, plays the modern noir pretty well. The mystery plot goes down several different paths, many of which are engaging. There is smart and sassy dialog to spare, too. One of the funniest exchanges is when Veronica hassles a sleazy paparazzi (Ken Marino) for some information: "Give it to me, Vinnie. Or I'll tell 50 Cent's security team where they can find the guy who posted video of Fifty baking lemon cakes while singing "Afternoon Delight."
Although I didn't watch the show, I was able to often tell when the movie was referencing the series and its characters. Throwing in lots of the old characters may please fans, but sometimes it just slowed down the movie.
The Veronica Mars movie came to fruition via a Kickstarter campaign put together by creator Thomas and star Bell. They reached their $2 million goal in less than ten hours, so there clearly was a fanbase. I doubt that the fans will be disappointed in the feature film, and even if you are not a fan, chances are you will enjoy the movie as well.