Veronica Mars Review
By Rich Cline
Funded by fans, this follow-up to the cult TV show feels a lot like an extended reunion episode. But even those unfamiliar with the series will enjoy the twisty plot and smart dialog, plus the sparky Kristen Bell in the title role. And while there are rather too many characters for a stand-alone movie, they all feed nicely into the central mystery.
After escaping from the run-down seaside town of Neptune, California, nine years ago, Veronica (Bell) has become a New York lawyer. But just as she's on the verge of landing her first proper job, an old friend is murdered back home, waking her investigatory instincts. The worst of it is that her ex Logan (Dohring) is the prime suspect, so Veronica heads home to help him clear his name. Her private eye dad (Colantoni) just rolls his eyes when she slips back into her old mystery-solving role, working with her pals Mac, Weevil and Wallace (Majorino, Capra and Daggs). But three other classmates - Gia, Cobb and Dick (Ritter, Starr and Hansen) - are also involved. And the fact that she keeps putting off her return to New York annoys her boyfriend Piz (Lowell).
The most refreshing thing about this film is the way filmmaker Thomas refuses to play by the usual rules. Bell may have been offered a dream job, but we fully understand why she's blowing it off to help her friends. And the whodunit plot is just intriguing enough to hold our interest: we don't really care who the villain really is, but it's fun to watch Veronica dig through the clues and challenge every level of authority. And the script gleefully stirs in red herrings, side-plots and lots of suspicious-looking characters.
At the centre, Bell is terrific: plucky and likeable, Veronica is a bundle of sassy comebacks and brainy intuition. And her chemistry with everyone else lifts their rather dull characters as well. Not that there aren't some entertaining people on-screen, notably Hoffmann (as a goofy stalker chick) and Franco (in an extended cameo as another ridiculous version of himself). But this is Bell's show, and she gets it just right as the now-grown teen sleuth unable to resist the lure of her family and friends. Whether this spins into a series of films or a new TV series is another question.
Watch 'Veronica Mars' Trailer
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Wednesday 22nd September 2004
Production compaines: Rob Thomas Productions, Warner Bros., Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Cast & Crew
Starring: Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars, Jason Dohring as Logan Echolls, Enrico Colantoni as Keith Mars, Chris Lowell as Stosh "Piz" Piznarski, Percy Daggs III as Wallace Fennel, Tina Majorino as Cindy "Mac" Mackenzie, Krysten Ritter as Gia Goodman, Martin Starr as Stu "Cobb" Cobbler, Gaby Hoffmann as Ruby Jetson, Andrea Estella as Bonnie DeVille, Jerry O'Connell as Sheriff Dan Lamb, Francis Capra as Eli "Weevil" Navarro, Ryan Hansen as Dick Casablancas, Brandon Hillock as Deputy Jerry Sacks, Maury Sterling as Deputy Lyles, Sam Huntington as Luke Haldeman, Max Greenfield as Leo D'Amato, Daran Norris as Cliff McCormack, Amanda Noret as Madison Sinclair, Jonathan Chesner as Corny, Christiann Castellanos as Jade, Akiko Ann Morison as Mrs. Quan, Eden Sher as Penny, Christine Lakin as Susan Knight, Lisa Thornhill as Celeste Kane, Charles Latibeaudiere as Himself, Harvey Levin as Himself, Adam Johnson as The Low Rent DJ, Ira Glass as Himself, Alejandro Escovedo as Grungy Busker, Larry Bates as Leonard March, Matthew Arkin as Doctor, Dave Allen as 60-Year-Old Rocker (as Dave (Gruber) Allen), Eddie Jemison as JC Borden, Alex Poncio as Drunken Canadian, Helen Slayton-Hughes as Mrs. Barnes, Patrick Cox as Bouncer, Ryan Lane as Slick Fellow Applicant, Ingo Neuhaus as Beefy Deputy, Jessica Camacho as Martina Vasquez, Meredith Eaton as Receptionist, Robert Hallak as TV Reporter Two, Jamie Lee Curtis as Gayle Buckley, Dax Shepard as Overconfident Club Boy, Jeremy Fitzgerald as 'Roid Tale, Dorian Kingi as Vapid Tool, Ken Marino as Vinnie Van Lowe, Kevin Sheridan as Sean Friedrich, Duane Daniels as Principal Van Clemmons, Mario Ardila Jr. as Punk #1, Justin Long as Drunken Wingman (uncredited), James Franco as Himself (uncredited)