Editor's Note: I am not a "Marshmallow." What I am, it should be stated, is an overzealous and overprotective Kristen Bell fan who has sat through countless episodes of the eponymous "Veronica Mars" television series to know just how much better of a movie the diehard fans - known as Marshmallows - deserved.
For those unfamiliar with how this little passion project of a movie came to be, look no further than Kickstarter, a platform where fans of varying artistic endeavors can pool their money and hope to resurrect or hope to launch a project. In this case, fans of the television series raised nearly 6 million dollars to coax Rob Thomas (writer, director) and friends in to making a full-length feature film; not that Rob Thomas and friends needed much coaxing mind you. The only series regular who declined to reprise her role was Leighton Meester; who was unceremoniously recasted and her character murdered within the first few seconds of the film. On a personal level, my girlfriend has always been a faithful "Veronica Mars" fan and was one of the early investors to the movie. She and I would routinely check the escalating figures as to how much the kickstarter campaign was earning. During the exclusive AMC premier, my girlfriend proudly donned her "I Saved Veronica Mars" T-shirt she earned as a contributor to the campaign. But enough about Kickstarter and my girlfriend's fashion trends, there's a movie to review!
The first thing one should know before seeing this film is that a review of the source material is highly recommended. It's almost a necessity to know who's who in the Veronica Mars paradigm. Second, if you are not familiar with the show and decide to watch it with someone who is, be prepared to be left in the dark while your partner is squealing with delight while something you find completely innocuous is happening onscreen. Third, be prepared to be underwhelmed... by, well, all of it. Most specifically - by the acting, by the story, by the scale, by the ending, by...just about every aspect a film can underwhelm in. Even my muse, the heavenly Kristen Bell looked slightly, well, how should I put this - un-Kristen Bell-like. She looked almost puffy, like she had just been stung by a bee and there wasn't an epi-pen around.
The premise of the movie is that Bell's characters, Veronica Mars, formerly high school super sleuth now turned hotshot lawyer-in-the-making is beckoned home once her ex-boyfriend Logan (played by the ridiculously shrunken Jason Dohring) is presumed guilty of murdering his girlfriend. Oh, by the way, this so happens to also be the weekend of Veronica Mars' ten year high school reunion (how convenient) and as you can imagine, the entire "Veronica Mars" rolodex is summoned from their ten year hiatus and thrown unceremoniously into the mix, and into the list of possible murder suspects.
Fine, killing two birds with one camera lense - keeping the fan base happy and setting up countless opportunities for that classic Veronica Mars witty repertoire. Only what we were treated to was instead a lazy love triangle, a murder mystery that was solved in the blink-of-an-eye - creating absolutely no tension, and a serious lack of anything resembling Veronica Mars of old. Sure she had her camera, her Taser, her tape recorder and enough snappy comebacks to make George Carlin blush, but she was missing the most vital ingredient, vulnerability. The danger she ultimately found herself in seemed poorly cobbled together and almost done as a curtsey to the viewer, not because it made any sense to the plot.
But in all, save from the random and much needed comedic cameos of Justin Long, Dax Shepard and James Franco - playing himself, everything that made the show fresh and rewarding was lost in a film that tried to have its cake and it too. A film made for one very faithful and specific audience meanwhile trying desperately to emphasize just how much fresh content there potentially could be did a poor job with reiterating just why we needed this film in the first place. I'm overjoyed that Kickstarter gave this show a second chance, I just with that the film hadn't spent much of its time auditioning for a third.