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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Veronica Mars review: fan service included

Veronica Mars yellow light

I’ve never seen the show that spawned it, but it was still exactly what I was expecting. I am neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed by it. I am whelmed.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not seen the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

I haven’t seen a single episode of Veronica Mars, but I figured that if fans prepaying for movies on Kickstarter was the future of film — or one of the futures, at least — I’d better take a look at the Veronica Mars movie and see what all the fuss was about. And even never having seen the show that spawned it, it was still exactly what I was expecting. I am neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed by it. I am whelmed. This looks and feels like a double-length episode of a TV show, full of tangential references to past events and previous character interactions that were easy to spot even though all these faces and whatever they’d done in Season 2, Episode 4 were unknown to me. I say this not as a criticism, for this is precisely what the fans who paid in advance were looking for, and I’m happy for them (assuming that the new wisecracks and hugs and eyerolls were appropriate, of course). I say it cuz it’s just kind of hilarious. Like how, for instance, when some guy who Veronica knew from when she was a girl detective attending a small-town California high school a decade earlier makes an out-of-nowhere comment on how he thought she was in the FBI now, it doesn’t just sound random (especially because the movie opens with Veronica about to take the bar exam in New York and take a job with a high-powered Manhattan law firm). It sets off a sweet little ding-ding-ding of fan service… and, of course, it’s a reference to a previous attempt to reboot the show that all fans will be aware of. (The cameo by James Franco [Homefront] feels out of the blue, though, and it turns out he has no past connection to the show.) The story, which is completely beside the point, involves the death of a pop star whom Veronica (Kristen Bell: Frozen) went to high school with and who was dating her ex (Jason Dohring: Deep Impact); he’s accused of her murder and she flies home to help. Sex tapes are involved, and celebrity bashing, and though the sheriff (Jerry O’Connell: Obsessed) says that “America thinks he’s guilty,” this is a TV-scaled story that never gives us any perspective beyond that of Veronica’s circle of friends, enemies, and former high-school classmates — there’s even a 10-year reunion for her to cope with. I’m sure that’s perfectly fine with the fans, but there’s really not much of an in for anyone else.

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Veronica Mars (2014)
US/Can release: Mar 14 2014 (VOD same day)
UK/Ire release: Mar 14 2014 (VOD same day)

MPAA: rated PG-13 for sexuality including references, drug content, violence and some strong language
BBFC: rated 12A (contains strong language, moderate violence, sex, sex references)

viewed on my iPad

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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