Monday, July 7, 2014

Veronica Mars: A Review (Review #646)


Marshmallows Rejoice! 

The film adaptation of Veronica Mars, a cult television show that lasted all of three seasons, has finally arrived to fill all your desires.  The story of the making of Veronica Mars (funded by a Kickstarter campaign the fans of the show--the aforementioned Marshmallows) has finally come to all of us, fans and non-fans alike.  The issue of Veronica Mars is whether those who wouldn't know a Logan from a Piz would really care.  For myself, I didn't, as much as I tried. 

Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) has now moved on from her days as a teen detective working with her father Keith (Enrico Colantoni).  We get a recap of what happened on the series and we jump into where we are now.  Veronica is about to join a prestigious law firm and her boyfriend Stosh "Piz" Piznarski (Chris Lowell) works for Ira Glass' This American Life radio show (which to me makes both of them idiots, but I digress).  However, disturbing news comes their way.  Famed singer Bonnie Deville, whom Veronica knew as her frenemy Carrie Bishop (Andrea Estella) is found dead, with Veronica's former lover and Bonnie's current lover Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) accused of the crime.

Thus, Veronica flies down to Neptune, California, ostensibly to offer support but slowly she is drawn back into crime-solving in her hometown which makes Syria look like Mayberry (as the police force is brazenly and openly corrupt and a small group of elites suppress the population).  Who could have murdered Bonnie/Carrie, and why?  There are clues in her songs, clues that lead to a long-buried death that took place when she was in high school.

Speaking of, Veronica arrives in the dictatorship of Southern California in time for her tenth-year high school reunion (which she wants nothing to do with).  The appropriately-named Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen) points to his crotch to signal there's a flask, and the Mean Girls are still Mean, down to showing a previously-seen (in the series I think) sex tape of Veronica and Logan.

SERIOUSLY, do 28-year-old people BEHAVE in this way?  You'd think they would have grown up a bit by now, but this has put me dead-set against attending any high school reunion (though trust me, NO ONE will ever find ME in a sex tape...because that would require me HAVING sex, but I digress).  Still, the investigation must continue, even if new Sheriff Dan Lamb (Jerry O'Connell) tries to block Veronica at every turn.  We even get some help from, of all people, James Franco as James Franco.

Seriously Jim, overexposure...

In any case, Veronica does the rational thing: throw away her job offer from the law firm and dump her extremely long-suffering and loyal boyfriend Piz in favor of investigating a murder for no pay to help out the hot Logan (with whom she resumes her affair).  Murderer from past is exposed and Veronica returns to her old stomping ground.

For me, Veronica Mars pretty much sucked...I mean, sunk when James Franco appeared as himself to provide clues.  Seriously, why is HE in this?  However, there was already a lot about Veronica Mars that I didn't care for almost right off the bat. 

As Veronica gives her opening voice-over narration, at the end she tells us she's changed.  "I'm a Marshmallow", she declares, and I imagine that for those who watched all three seasons of this show and know it by heart, they must have let out whoops of joy at getting name-checked, but for the rest of us, that would either go over our heads or be eye-rolling (I confess to the latter).

That at its core is what's wrong with Veronica Mars.  It's nothing more than a television special meant to update a cult group as to whatever happened to...  I didn't care about the mystery or about the characters, especially if they were as dumb or crazy as they appeared in the movie.

I thought Bell's character, rather than being this bright young woman, was completely idiotic to leave the steady and loyal Piz for the slightly smarmy Logan.  How is her decision any different from any brain-dead romantic comedy like The Ugly Truth or Playing for Keeps where a supposedly bright woman leaves 'the perfect man' for an admittedly more attractive yet lower-prospect other.  The entire high school reunion bit was similarly idiotic.  People do not behave this way, and while it might have been fun for the Marshmallows it wasn't for those of us 'not in the know'. 

In fact I think the whole movie is like my nightmare version of a high school reunion: people reverting to their old ways.  A lot of information in terms of characters, storylines, and settings would be great for those who know the series, but those of us who don't are going to be left scratching our heads. 

From the rather outrageous setting of Neptune, California as this banana-republic like world to Veronica's nearly-incessant internal monologues and poor choosing skills, there is really nothing that a non-Veronica Mars viewer will care about.

The performances are good, with Bell's sometimes prickly, sometimes flat-out bitchy Veronica being someone I didn't care that much about.  However, I have to guess that those who were from the original series were playing rather unlikable characters (I especially found Hansen's Dick a repulsive figure, more a Chris Pratt-knockoff than anything else).  You had the wacky best friends (whom I didn't bother to remember their names), the mystery wasn't interesting, and not that shocking.

In summation, I think that Veronica Mars is a failure not because of ineptness but because of disinterest.  Those of us who never ventured to Neptune really don't end up caring about these people and even wonder why someone as 'bright' as Veronica chooses Logan.  Was this to please Logan/Veronica shippers?  After watching Veronica Mars, I really have no interest in seeing more movies, or the series, or comprehending why all these fans think it's so great, the Citizen Kane of television programs. 

I find more wit in a Hardy Boys/Encyclopedia Brown/Three Investigators story.


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