Veronica Mars – It’s Not Shit
And by “Veronica Mars,” I mean the movie. Not the show.
Although, the show is also massively not shit.
Can you tell I’m a fan?
TL;DR A drug-fuelled boatload of fanservice, with a satisfactory whodunnit tossed in, Veronica Mars is exactly what we, the fans, needed. I do not regret spending $110 on this. But seriously, what the fuck was Leighton Meester doing that was so important she couldn’t be in it? Bitch. 4 out of 5 stars.
The fantard inside me is screaming for a 5 star rating, but I’d like to think I have a little integrity left. Somewhere, I’m sure.
The plot focuses on Veronica Mars (no, really?), who has spent almost a decade free from the slimy clutches of Neptune, California, and is happily long-term dating the affable Piz. And about to become a big time lawyer. But when Logan gets in trouble for maybe murdering his rockstar girlfriend, Veronica is unable to keep herself from her roots any longer. Her return to Neptune coincides with her class reunion, so it’s cameos aplenty. The murder mystery, in typical Veronica Mars style, becomes a tangled, twisted ordeal, but our pixie detective gets to the bottom of it (it was the new, random character. All those cameos, and that’s how it went?). Meanwhile, she gets back in the sack with Logan, ditches Piz, and forsakes a comfortable, affluent life in New York for the seedy underbelly of Neptune. You know. Home. Colouring the proceedings is a bubbling socal tension in Neptune, where the socio-economic divide has only deepened since Veronica’s heyday.
And if it means anything to you, the sequel novel is fucking brilliant and I read the entire thing in a single, 7-hour sitting. It’s worth it.
What makes the Veronica Mars movie work so well, from a fan perspective, it that it actually happened. Veronica actually came back. And it’s good. It’s not perfect, but goddamn it’s good.
The whodunnit veers into more of a “who cares,” many characters get very little time in the spotlight, and fucking Leighton Meester is missing, but dammit, it’s Veronica Mars.
We got more Veronica Mars.
Why I DON’T hate this movie:
There have always been 2 key components to Veronica Mars’ success: the atmosphere of Neptune, and Veronica herself. And Kristen Bell may have finally hit puberty and looks like she isn’t a 12-year old anymore, but she still knows how to flip the Veronica switch. The wardrobe might be more mature, but she’s just as spunky, spelunky, and charming as ever. It’s called “Veronica Mars” for a reason.
The atmosphere is even more impressive than in the TV days. While the police corruption and political tensions take a far-back seat to the fanservice and the main mystery, it wouldn’t be Nepture without the permeating sense of sleaze and dread. A couple of subplots get to roll around in the muck (Keith, Weevil), and they help ground the celebrity murder investigation goings-on. Keith’s almost-death (and Deputy Sacks’ actual death) are a crushing shock to the system. Neptune isn’t safe.
The cameo quota is insanely up to scratch (except for bloody Leighton). I won’t give an exhaustive list, but here are some of my favourites (in addition to the more major characters, obviously): Madison as the ageing Queen Bee at the reunion; Christine Lakin‘s character Susan Knight being a major part of the murder mystery; Leo Damato getting a look-in as a full-fledged detective (any excuse for Max Greenfield to take refuge from the shitstained halls of New Girl); Celeste Kane popping a cap in Weevil’s ass.
The best new addition is Jerry O’Connell as Sheriff Don Lamb’s (RIP) even less scrupulous older brother, Sheriff Dan Lamb. Piranha really gave him a taste for assholery, huh? It’s excellent.
James Franco also takes a turn playing himself, having been caught up in a celebrity spying operation organised by Vinnie Van Lowe.
While the ultimate culprit of the Carrie Bishop/Bonnie DeVille murder is a bland, nothing, new character, the twists and turns to get there are classic Veronica Mars. Who knew getting electrocuted in the bath was so complicated?
And the movie doesn’t whimp out on killing off characters, either. Firstly is Susan Knight, whose death is what ignited the eventual murder of Carrie. Then there’s Carrie. Then poor Deputy Sacks, who was trying to fight the corruption in the police department. And then silly little Gia Goodman (Krysten Ritter) ends up on the receiving end of Cobb’s (the murderous, new character) sniping efforts. I’ll miss her the most.
While the ending leaves a lot of room for future adventures (and again, the first sequel book is great), the movie works as a standalone piece. It’s a whole story. Not simply a chance at picking things up again (which would be nice, though).
Jamie Lee Curtis cameos as Veronica’s prospective boss at the New York law firm. What a peach.
Given that it’s Veronica Mars, picking out a single best line is redundant (much like a Darren Stein film). Instead, I’ll give Veronica the movie’s best gesture when she does a flip-off lipstick phantomime. And she does get to drop the f-bomb. Once. To Justin Long. Because he deserves it.
Dick gets barely any screentime, but he hasn’t changed much. Which is nice. Mac and Wallace may have upgraded their bodies, but they’re still their wonderful selves, too.
Madison plays Veronica and Piz’s sex tape from season 3 during the reunion. Vicious.
The movie’s theme about inescapable addiction is a tough one to tackle. Especially tough when Veronica ends up succumbing to her addiction and returning to her old life. But nothing about Veronica Mars is meant to be easy.
Oh, and Keith is vehemently opposed to Veronica setting fire to Piz and her job offer and taking up the PI mantle in Neptune. Good. Someone should be.
But it’s not all good:
Fucking Leighton Meester. I look forward to poorly reviewing whatever movie it was that she was engaged in that prevented her from being in this.
Cobb is Todd from The Lifeguard. Great, so you’re both an arbitrary new character, and a reminder of Kristen Bell’s preceding disappointment of a role. Good job.
In the almost 10 years between season 3 and now, Logan has apparently become a pilot for the Navy. Yeah, right. What the fuck?
An early red herring in Carrie’s murder is obsessed fan Ruby. Who is played by the chick who’s Adam’s crazy sister in Girls. Don’t remind me.
Gia dies. That makes me sad.
Weevil’s return to the biker life (after having previously gone straight, gotten married, had a kid, and overcome season 3’s wicked acne) is confusingly motivated. He’s mad at the police/society for getting framed with a gun in his hand after Celeste shot him (he was actually helping her ward off some real bikers, and she shot him out of surprise. They put a gun in his hand to keep the rich Celeste out of trouble). So joining a criminal biker gang probably isn’t the best way to get people to believe you’re not a member of a criminal biker gang.
Oh, and while I know Veronica Mars’ plot often hinges on coincidences and intense serendipity, Cobb’s wakeup to Veronica’s investigation is too arbitrary for me to handle. Veronica puts an old fashioned bug in Gia’s apartment to listen in for clues. It broadcasts a radio signal in a small radius, which anyone on the supposedly disused station can hear. Cobb figures this out when a random neighbour appears at just the right time to congratulate him on his sex with Gia, which the neighbour heard on the as-it-turns-out-not-totally disused radio frequency. That’s fucking bad timing, man.
It’s not worthy of 5 stars. It’s not. Which is a shame. But Veronica Mars is the fanservice motherload we’ve been waiting for. Even 7 years on, it still has the same feel to it. It’s still Veronica Mars. And if the first sequel novel is any indication, it’s not dead. It will always be my first TV series love. It’s not shit. 4 out of 5 stars.