Maybe, just maybe, she’s even more lovable now than ever.
“The new me?” asks Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) rhetorically in her newest wiseacre voiceover after seven years off our radar. “People say I’m a marshmallow.”
Fat chance. Not for long, she isn’t. We know, of course, that she’s the former prodigy of TV teen private eyes and is now the newly crowned queen of kickstarter cinema. So, of course, she’s back home in “the seedy beach town” of Neptune, Calif. You remember Neptune from the TV show I hope – certainly you do if you were among the enlightened “Veronica Mars” cultists. “When the class war comes” Veronica now informs us “Neptune will be ground zero.”
It was all that acute class consciousness and accompanying razor-keen teen wisecracking that made the series “Veronica Mars” one of the all-age delights of millennial television. Demographic pandering was never more elegant and stylish – and laugh out loud funny– on the tube. It’s all of that in movie form too.
Neptune was every unhappy teenager’s vision of a hellhole home town. But it’s, of course, the place Veronica just can’t stay away from, even though years later she’s now a fancy, shmancy young Manhattan lawyer. Why can’t she stay away? She’ll gladly tell you in terms befitting a former psych major at Hearst College and Stanford. She’s a self-described “compulsive, addictive personality and possible adrenaline junkie.”
Hence, her attraction to her hometown with its corrupt ruling oligarchy, its even more corrupt sheriff’s department and her old boyfriend Logan (Jason Doring) with whom, it seems, she made a widely disseminated sex tape. (When her job interview for that upscale law firm asks her about the tape and then adjourns for lunch, she jokes that she hopes, when they come back, they’ll ask her about “STD’s.” A very dark Veronica joke if ever there was one.)
So here’s the “Veronica Mars” movie that all of us fervent “Veronica Mars” TV cultists have wanted to see since it went off the air in 2007 – some, so badly, that they contributed to writer/director/creator Rob Thomas’ hugely successful kickstarter campaign to finance a much-demanded “Veronica Mars” feature film.
It opened Friday in 270 AMC theaters in cities around the country but on a limited basis.
What that means, though, about this film that was financed in the new 21st century way – by TV fans willing to pony up the costs – is that its most devoted eager fans in cities like Buffalo will have to watch it in On Demand Video or through I-Tunes (which is how I watched).
And that is, more and more, the way unusual films of far than routine interest are being seen these days. After a much-written about debut at the Berlin Film Festival, Lars Van Trier’s much-anticipated film “Nymphomaniac Vol. 1” with Charlotte Gaisbourg and Shia LaBeouf can now be seen on On Demand cable video before it’s expected to open in local art theaters.
There’s no question that the “Veronica Mars” movie will be something less than self-explanatory for those who never saw the series. But then who wouldn’t expect that a movie from a TV show financed by the show’s most rabid fans wouldn’t simply continue the teen-centered show into adult life?
And that’s where we are with Veronica’s return to her hometown. Her old flame Logan is in trouble. He’s suspected of killing their old classmate Carrie, who became a big pop music star singing very spaced-out ballads under the name Bonnie DeVille. And when Logan found Bonnie electrocuted in the bathtub, the corrupt sheriff’s department of Neptune is more than delighted to send him away for it.
Hence, Logan’s frantic call to his old lover Veronica, the big shot Manhattan lawyer in training.
Writers Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero are back with their delicious old wisecracks. Once they were the epitome of teen hipness; now they’re the epitome of post-teen hipness.
Says Veronica’s old computer-nerd buddy Mac, now employed by the computer firm owned by the town’s ruling oligarchs, “I wish I was clubbing baby seals” instead for a living.
When Veronica opens up her secret box full of private eye investigating tools, her narration calls attention to the generic, unrevealing label she put on the box long ago and then asks her ardent fan audience, “Would labeling it Pandora have seemed a little, I don’t know, OPERATIC?”
What I always loved most about the show was her enormously droll relationship with her private eye father Keith (Enrico Colantoni), a man dealing with the unusual but hardly unknown problem of having a daughter infinitely wittier and smarter and more capable than he. (As a cop’s daughter, she jokes, she “knew the felonies before I knew the state capitals.”)
“The George Bailey of Neptune” as Veronica calls him.
I don’t know about you but it’s hard to resist Veronica Mars going to her 10th high school reunion and discovering that the event has its own pseudo-Oscar “In Memoriam” montage.
Let’s admit that the mystery of the electrocuted space-case emo singer is a bit less than involving as the movie goes on, but the percolation of Marsian wisecracks is as delightful as ever and the final “operatic” nonconclusion of the story of Veronica and Logan will be just dandy for the show’s fans.
And if all that deadpan wit happens to make some new fans out of unavoidably confused newbies, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised.
Wonderful to have her back. I hope it doesn’t take as long next time – and that she’s shown in a lot more theaters next time.