The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars was one of those TV shows people always told me I would like, and I believed them. I just never got around to watching it. (I could make the same claim for many hot shows.) This being the case, I went into the Veronica Mars movie, on DVD and Blu-Ray May 6, completely cold, never having seen so much as a single minute of a single episode. A film like this always raises the question of whether newcomers can enjoy it, as they are unarmed with an understanding of the characters' histories and all the references that are surely contained within the screenplay. In this case, the answer is yes. And I think I need to go and do some binge-watching on Netflix.

A brief pre-credits sequence gives you an overview: Kristen Bell plays the title character, a former teenage private eye who solved her best friend's murder and eventually left the business. She is pulled back in when her ex-boyfriend, Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), is accused of killing his pop star girlfriend. Back home in Neptune, California, her father Keith (Enrico Colantoni) expresses some displeasure that she's putting a potentially lucrative job at a law firm – and a relationship – aside to start sleuthing again. Veronica frequently compares herself to an addict, explaining in voiceover her inability to walk away from unanswered questions. Her investigation into Logan's situation brings her back in proximity to many old friends, as well as a few frenemies, eventually leading to a discovery that affects all of them.

It's safe to say that if you watched Veronica Mars on TV, you'll see all the familiar faces represented here. There are a lot of characters, and newbies will know when the film is stopping to throw in a bit of hardcore fan appeasement. Fortunately, all Neptune's residents are very colorful, so even if you're not familiar with them, you'll want to be. The best character, though, is Veronica herself. In a time when there are depressingly few good female heroines onscreen, it's great to see one who is smart, competent, and more than a little sarcastic. Bell plays her wonderfully, creating a young woman who is utterly credible as an inquisitive, determined – yet still compassionate - private eye.

The central mystery is actually pretty good, which is another selling point for newbies and veterans alike. It isn't predictable, and rather than being a simple Whodunnit?, the movie puts some actual meaning to the reason why the murder was committed. Writers Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero have created a solid story for their beloved character to inhabit, then spiced it up with quirky, often pop culture-infused humor.

There's nothing brilliant or groundbreaking about Veronica Mars, but there doesn't need to be. Fans will love seeing all the familiar characters and locations, while newcomers can enjoy being introduced to them.

( out of four)

Blu-Ray Features:

Veronica Mars has a number of bonus features, starting with “By the Fans: The Making of the Veronica Mars Movie.” This nearly hour-long documentary tracks the production, starting with the launch of its now-famous Kickstarter campaign. There's some footage of Bell and creator Rob Thomas watching the donations roll in and getting floored by the results. From there, the feature goes on to detail how the cast and crew worked to recapture the magic of the show. Their appreciation for Kickstarter backers is repeatedly emphasized, as we see many of them invited to the set and to the Comic-Con presentation for the film. This is a really informative look at how a new funding model was used to produce a film by putting the power in the hands of fans.

The rest of the goodies are all much shorter in nature, but still designed to satisfy Veronica Mars devotees. Bell, Chris Lowell, Enrico Colantoni, and Max Greenfield all get brief chapters devoted to various bits of behind-the-scenes/promotional silliness, and there's another three-minute video regarding an on-set prank. The Kickstarter backers get an additional five-minute appreciation, as well. Some deleted scenes and a gag reel round out the package. An UltraViolet copy of the movie is included.

Veronica Mars is rated PG-13 for sexuality including references, drug content, violence and some strong language. The running time is 1 hour and 47 minutes.

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