Ever since Kristen Bell’s teenage super-sleuth TV show got cancelled in 2007, its creator, Rob Thomas, has been toiling to get a spinoff feature film made. Through an audacious, ground-breaking Kickstarter campaign, 91,585 of its most ardent fans contributed $5.7 million, setting a record for the use of crowd-sourcing in fundraising. Read on…
Nine years later, now-in-her-late 20s Veronica (Kristin Bell) is a law school graduate, seeking employment in New York City, where she’s living in with her longtime boy-friend Stosh “Piz” Piznarski (Chris Lowell). But when her ex-flame Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) is charged with murdering his rock-star girlfriend, Carrie Bishop, now known as Bonnie DeVille (Andrea Estella), Veronica heads back to her fictional hometown of Neptune in Southern California, an affluent beach community where wealthy socialites and working-class folk clash, often with violent consequences. And it’s just in time for her 10-year reunion at Neptune High, where Logan, Carrie and Veronica were classmates.
Co-scripted by Diane Ruggiero and director Rob Thomas, it contains a video collage of exposition and voice-over narrative, as returning cast members slip into their accustomed roles. There are Veronica’s close friends Cindy “Mac” Mackenzie (Tina Majorino) and Wallace Fennel (Percy Daggs III), the surfer/philosopher Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen) and the sleazy, corrupt new Sheriff Lamb (Jerry O’Connell).
The relationship Veronica has with her father Keith (Enrico Colantoni), the former sheriff-turned-private-investigator, has the most depth, particular when it references the addiction problems of Veronica’s absent alcoholic mother. And the flip, sarcastic dialogue can be surprisingly witty.
Jamie Lee Curtis does a cameo as Veronica’s prospective Manhattan employer, while James Franco plays himself. Obviously, if you were a devoted Gen-Y fan of the TV series, you’ll catch character references and inside jokes that are a bit too obtuse for the rest of us. Yet fans of “Frozen” will probably recognize Kristin Bell’s voice as Anna.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Veronica Mars” is a sassy, snappy 6, a two-hour, low-budget spin-off from the original cult favorite – that’s also on video-on-demand so you can watch at home.