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June 21, 2016

Veronica Mars

by Franz Patrick


Veronica Mars (2014)
★★ / ★★★★

On the verge of getting hired at a prestigious law firm in New York City, Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell), a former sleuth in high school and college, receives a text from an ex-boyfriend, Logan (Jason Dohring), currently the main suspect for the murder of his girlfriend, a rising pop star. Though returning to the beach town of Neptune, California does not exactly excite her, she convinces herself that she will return only to help Logan find a lawyer who is good enough to extricate him out of the situation. Veronica believes he is innocent.

As someone who has not seen an episode of the television show, “Veronica Mars,” based on the screenplay by Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggerio, is welcoming and interesting enough to those hoping to pass the time. Though not impressive by any means, it offers a pleasant experience in that the lead protagonist is quirky but not so much that she gets annoying, the murder mystery is worth answering, and there is actual detective work involved. What I hate most about movies that involve investigating a crime and figuring out who is (or are) responsible is a lack of lines that connect the dots. This film shows Veronica’s step-by-step process so by the end we have an understanding of how she thinks.

I enjoyed the somewhat witty script. When two characters banter, it is most fun to listen to. The exchanges between Veronica and her detective father (Enrico Colantoni) are sweet and amusing which gives the impression that the former is really visiting home after being away for some time. When Veronica crosses paths with someone she did not particularly like in high school (the feeling is always mutual), she gets prickly but never mean-spirited. It is a good decision—both on the writer’s part and the performer’s—never to cross that line so that the main character remains likable. It is understandable, however, if one claims that such is too safe a move.

What gets lost in the shuffle is Veronica’s feelings for two men, Logan and Piz (Chris Lowell). Though Logan is the more dangerous guy, I did not understand why she is necessarily drawn to him. In my eyes, Piz is the better choice—no question. The picture gives the impression that Veronica and Piz have a really good thing going in New York so there is really no reason for her to want to be romantically involved with the murder suspect. It would have been a fresh choice if the former teen detective had kept her relationship with Logan as either strictly professional or a genuine concern for a friend without any of the old feelings rising to the surface.

Another positive quality: We get to see Veronica’s resourcefulness and tenacity. These two qualities are front and center during the final thirty to forty minutes. I liked that when she encounters a dangerous enemy, it is obvious she is not a fighter.

But what limits “Veronica Mars,” directed by Rob Thomas, immensely is that it never looks and feels cinematic. Though I can overlook certain aspects, it is based off a television show after all, the narration is used as a crutch at times and the overall tone never changes. Thus, some of the drama is muffled. Perhaps the intention is to create an extension of the show, but the medium of choice is the movies. Thus, it should be regarded and treated as such. Having said that, I am happy to give the picture a mild recommendation.

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