Veronica Mars was one of those oh-so-clever TV shows that earned itself a dedicated following…just not one big enough to keep it on the air. But it was that dedicated following that helped bring it back as a movie, which is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. It’s just too bad this didn’t happen sooner because, despite what The Rolling Stones may have said, time was not on this film’s side.
Set nine years after the show’s final episode, Veronica Mars finds our titular hero (the ever adorable Kristen Bell) trying to get a job as a lawyer in New York, her days as a private investigator long behind her. But when her ex-boyfriend Logan (Jason Dohring) is accused of murder, Mars returns to her hometown, and reconnects with her old pals and enemies, in an attempt to prove Logan’s innocence.
At first, Veronica Mars seems to be on the right track. The dialog is sufficiently smart, quick, and riddled with pop culture references, including some inside jokes about the show’s loyal fans and its fate. They also got most of the show’s original cast to show up, all of whom slip back into their old roles as if it hasn’t been seven years since the last episode aired. Which is why, in this regard, Veronica Mars feels like a long episode of the show.
But it’s the gap in time where Veronica Mars runs into problems. While Logan was always a smug schmuck, and his relationship with Mars never felt like anything more than the bad boy getting the girl he didn’t deserve, here he seems like an even bigger tool because he’s nine years older but is still the same stupid brat. Granted, some of that is on me because, like Logan, I am older, too. But this just makes Logan’s attitude that much less bearable.
The same gap in time also causes a real problem with some of the things Veronica does in the film. I can’t say what without spoiling things, but suffice it to say that Veronica makes some very bad decisions, ones with real consequences. And while they’re the kinds of things she might’ve done when she was younger — y’know, during the show — they don’t fit who she’s become now that she’s in her late-20s. Nor are they the kinds of things a smart person like her would do in their late-20s. But because she does them, they make me think less of Veronica as a person, which completely ruins this movie.
Though I did like that the people in her life thought it was stupid of her as well.
What’s just as annoying is that, had Veronica Mars set things up differently in the beginning, Veronica’s big mistakes wouldn’t have seemed so out of character or as sad. Sure, some of them would still be stupid, but some of the others would’ve at least seemed understandable, and thus not made Veronica into something she’s not. Or something we would’ve hoped she’s not.
While Veronica’s poor choices ruin the film and her character, there are other problems with Veronica Mars that would still be present if she hadn’t acted like an idiot. While there was a real mystery to the show when it started, one that had some solid twists and turns, the one here isn’t as, well, mysterious. Granted, it’s not obvious who did it within the first five minutes, but some of the plot devices are a bit too convenient, and thus feel like cheats.
Then there’s a subplot which doesn’t do it much for the main story (though it is a continuation of something that happened during the show). Though without it, Veronica Mars would’ve felt like a long episode of the show…but too short of a movie.
In the end, because of her poor life choices, I can’t recommend that fans of Veronica Mars — and fans of Veronica herself — watch this movie. I know I wish I hadn’t. And I also can’t recommend it to people who never saw the show, or who did but didn’t like it (though I don’t know why they would).
That said, if you are going to take this plunge, you’ll be happy to know that the Veronica Mars DVD and Blu-ray both have extras that fans of the show and this movie will enjoy.
The best of these is the making-of featurette “By The Fans: The Making Of The Veronica Mars Movie,” which spends nearly an hour showing how the show’s fans rallied on Kickstarter to get the film made. Which is fun to watch because the cast and crew involved were caught off guard by how hard the fans rallied.
The Veronica Mars DVD and Blu-ray also has about four minutes of deleted scenes, which are interesting and thus worth watching, even if they wouldn’t have added much to the movie, as well as a funny gag reel, which shows just how much fun the cast had making this flick.
Then there are six short behind-the-scenes featurettes, the best of which — “More On-Set Fun: Game Show With Kristen Bell And Chris Lowell,” in which the two stars ask each other questions, and “More On-Set Fun: It’s Not About You Monkey,” which you just need to watch — are very much in the snarky spirit of the show. This isn’t to say the other four aren’t worth watching, just that they’re just fairly typical of these kinds of things.
Still, like the movie, the Veronica Mars DVD and Blu-ray could’ve been better. First, the “By The Fans: The Making Of The Veronica Mars Movie” talks about a video the cast and crew made to help the Kickstarter campaign, but that video isn’t on this disc. Neither are any of the film’s trailers. And as long as we’re at it, this really could’ve used a commentary track, though only if Bell and other members of the cast and crew were there and everyone was in the room at the same time.
I also had an issue with the way the menus work. To watch the movie or one of the extras or whatever, you have to highlight a blue star button. But the visual difference between a button that’s highlighted and one that isn’t is so subtle that it’s hard to tell if you’re about to watch the extra you want to see, or if you’re going to the audio menu instead.
While the problems with the Veronica Mars DVD and Blu-ray are somewhat understandable, the problems with the film are unforgivable. What should’ve been the triumphant return for one of the TV’s more engaging characters was instead a ruining of that character by stupid, stupid mistakes. Her fans deserved better. After all, they brought her back; the least the filmmakers could’ve done was brought her back right.