Veronica Mars Review: Film Adaptation "Is Akin to a Killer Episode"

Entertainment Mar. 12, 2014 AT 8:15AM
Kristen Bell Kristen Bell's Veronica Mars isn't just marshmallow fluff. The film adaptation "is akin to a killer episode," writes Us Weekly's film critic Mara Reinstein Credit: Warner Bros.

In theaters Friday, March 14 

3 stars (out of 4 stars)

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Well played, Marshmallows.

Last year, $5.7 million was raised on Kickstarter to fund a big screen version of a cult TV show that never garnered 5.7 million weekly viewers during its three seasons on the air. High donors got tickets to the premiere and walk-on roles. Low donors got a copy of Rob Thomas' script. But everyone gets the big prize: A pulpy and sly murder mystery that aims to please.

(It also features a slew of inside jokes. See: Marshmallows).

So, where'd we leave off? Ten years have passed since our beloved, dryly hilarious former teen PI (Kristen Bell, all in) graduated from Neptune High. She's now a budding NYC lawyer dating amiable, impossibly bland "Piz" (Chris Lowell). She's lured back home when her ex Logan (Jason Dohring) is accused of killing his girlfriend — a famous pop singer and former classmate.

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Not much has changed in that upper class, coastal California community. Quick rundown: Veronica’s dad, Keith (Enrico Colantoni) has resumed his sheriff's post; Wallace (Percy Daggs III) is now a coach at his alma mater; Weevil (Francis Capra) has cleaned up and rid himself of the PCHers; and Logan — one of TV's most unlikely heartthrobs — is still a moody brooder. He greets his Veronica with a platonic hug, but it doesn’t take a LoVe expert to know where this is going. And for those who are curious, Teddy Dunn's Duncan Kane is MIA. High school love triangles are soooo high school.

Though Keith warns Veronica to stay out of l'affair de Logan, she just can't help herself. Soon, the dogged investigator is reunited with her old pal: the long-lens camera. Age has only made her sharper and snappier — and now she's able to utilize all sorts of nifty, 2014-era technological resources to aid her analysis. The victim's crazy stalker (Gaby Hoffman) seems suspicious. What was up with that cryptic text? All the partiers on that doomed booze cruise need to get their alibis together too. (It's a treat to watch her grill Ryan Hansen's lecherous lothario Dick Casablancas).

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Because Veronica is the kind of girl who tells it like it is, let's not sugarcoat things: There's something a little — well, UPN/CW — about the some of mystery's by-the-numbers plotting. And though donators might feel like they want to get their money’s worth, even they would agree that a Weevil-in-peril subplot goes nowhere. He was fifth-billed on the opening credits for a reason!

As for the V-mars virgins? At times, they'll be more confused than amused by the shout-outs and cameos. For that matter, fans who haven't seen the show since it went off the air in 2007 might leave the theater Googling, "Was Jerry O'Connell ever on Veronica Mars?" (Answer: No. He was just cast in this version. But New Girl's Max Greenfield was on the series and also appears here.)

Still, the adaptation is akin to a killer episode — plus a few swear words and a sexy PG-13 roll in the sheets thrown in for good measure. Even James Franco pops in for a charming, self-deprecating turn. The Marshmallows may do all the savoring, but rest assured that this film isn't just fluff.

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