Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mars Attacks

“A long time ago we used to be friends.....”  Over the course of three seasons from 2004-2007, a little TV show called ‘Veronica Mars’ earned both rave reviews from critics and legions of passionate fans around the world.  While this addictive, smartly written teen detective neo-noir created by Rob Thomas (the writer/producer/director, not the ‘Matchbox Twenty’ front-man) never became a ratings success, it garnered a strong cult following that made this movie possible.  You see, ‘Veronica Mars’ was funded via a kickstarter campaign by fans who contributed over $5.7 million to its production.  A paltry sum by Hollywood standards, to be sure, but it nonetheless underscored the passion the show’s rabid fans reserved for the diminutive, street-smart blond Sherlock with a razor-sharp tongue played by Kristen Bell that’s second only to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy.  Indeed, a cuter detective there never was. 

‘Veronica Mars’ picks up nine years after the TV series ended, and we find our feisty young crime-solver putting her sleuthing days behind to pursue a normal life as an attorney and a stable relationship with her fiancé Piz.  She gets interviewed at a prestigious NYC law firm by Jamie Lee Curtis and wins her over with the same charm, wit, and smile as she did the rest of us.  Alas, her past catches up with her when she’s called back to Neptune because her ‘bad boy’ ex-boyfriend Logan Echolls (now a well behaved ‘officer and a gentleman’ a lá  Richard Gere, believe it or not) proved once again that he can draw murder raps like a manure pile draws flies.  Never fear, Logan, Veronica is here to pull your ass out of the fire again, and she's in fine form even after all these years.  It’s as if she never left.

The movie is a reunion of sorts, quite literally, and we see many a familiar face, including Veronica’s frequent partners-in-crime Wallace and Mac, Weevil, Dick Casablancas (the harmless and unintentionally funny California surfer douche, uh, dude), Gia Goodman, and sleazy PI Vinnie Van Lowe (Ken Marino) whose moniker, like the movie’s murder victim’s stage name, ‘Bonnie DeVille,’ are almost porn-worthy.  While ‘Veronica Mars’ remained faithful to its small-screen roots and is a noir mystery through and through, it is also a satire of our celebrity-obsessed culture and provides social commentary on the divide between classes and cliques.

If you’ve never seen the TV show, the movie provides a brief exposition at the beginning to set you up nicely for what is to follow.  You’ll find yourself drawn irresistably into the sordid, corrupt world of Neptune, California, a fictional seaside community of the rich (the ‘0-9ers’) and downtrodden, a town where many dark secrets lay hidden, waiting for the light of justice to be shined upon them by Veronica and her private investigator dad, former sheriff Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni).  Then, you’ll no doubt want to watch the TV series to find out how Veronica, who was once a popular girl at Neptune High, ditched her ‘0-9er’ circle of friends to defend the weak, solve the murder of her BFF Lilly Kane (Amanda Seyfried), and unravel the mystery of who caused a bus full of Neptune High students returning from a field-trip to careen off a mountainside highway into a canyon.

Grade: A
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