“The new me? People say I’m a Marshmallow.”
As someone who’s only seen snippets of Veronica Mars‘ TV run in passing, much of my excitement for this film came from the extraordinary origins of its new incarnation. The first major studio film to be funded via Kickstarter pledges, and a film based on a beloved, yet swiftly cancelled, CW show nonetheless – it’s, in every sense of the word, a gamechanger.
Nine years on, our title character (Kristen Bell) has left Neptune, CA behind. She ended up with Piz (Chris Lowell), and is well on her way to a promising law career with a top tier New York firm. But when old flame Logan (Jason Dohring) is the top suspect in the murder of pop sensation Bonnie Deville (Andrea Estella), Veronica’s drawn back to Neptune to clear his name. Of course, this means an ill-fated high school reunion and sage advice from her dear old Dad (Enrico Colantoni).
The film begins with a crash course, by way of a montage, to bring anyone who may be uninitiated up to speed on Veronica’s exploits as a teenaged private eye. Veronica, as usual, is a wildly entertaining character, and spending 100 minutes with her as the unlikely super sleuth is bucketloads of fun. Rob Thomas’ snappy dialogue is as fresh as ever, keeping the proceedings buoyed and highly enjoyable, while the cheeky references and quirky cameos that abound throughout feel surprisingly organic. The amount of joy that Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell, and company get from this show and these characters oozes from every frame, and it’s a delight to behold.
Despite all of this, the mystery at the centre of the film just isn’t all that interesting. By the time the killer is finally revealed, it’s been such a long time coming that it’s anticlimactic by design. From my understanding, the show dealt in longer form mysteries until its third season, and it’s obvious here that Thomas’ skills lie in the much wider scope of series television. The film attempts to service a few too many characters, with good reason – what would a Veronica Mars film be without a high school reunion? – but certain people get a little bit lost in the mix. The film also serves to remind us how incredibly dull all of Veronica’s potential love interests are, and while it’s nice to see a woman as the well-written, three dimensional character for a change, any screen time devoted to Logan or Piz in relation to their romantic prospects with Veronica feels almost like time wasted.
It’s a shallow film, but it’s not a film intended for me. In fact, any of my criticisms of Veronica Mars couldn’t be more irrelevant. This film isn’t for anyone who casually watched the show when channel surfing or for anyone uninitiated to Neptune, California; it’s not for critics to debate or awards shows to honour. This film is for the fandom that, just over a year ago, came together and quite literally, changed the way we think about filmmaking. It’s a success story for the fans who wouldn’t quit until Veronica lived to see another day and solve another case – and it delivers to those fans in spades.
So, here’s looking at you, Marshmallows.