When Veronica Mars premiered nearly a decade ago, the teenage neo-noir drew a small, devoted following that floated the TV show for three seasons. No surprise, then, that when creator Rob Thomas Kickstarted a Veronica Mars movie, fans answered.
The result is Veronica Mars, a brisk low-budget flick that finds Veronica (Kristen Bell) back in Neptune, California to help ex Logan (Jason Dohring) beat a murder rap, attend her reunion and tie up 10 years of loose ends.
There are some feinted concessions to new viewers, including a prologue that reads like a TV “previously on,” but the movie pulls itself heavily back into the past both in the case and its subtext. On one hand, the insular Neptune rich kids suit their stagnant orbit; on the other, some grace notes—like characters who unexpectedly come to Logan’s defense in a brawl—rely heavily on old canon for their power. Even the slow burn between Veronica and Logan suffers from it, though their connection occasionally achieves the tug of old times. Luckily, Veronica’s father Keith (Enrico Colantoni, an understated gem) needs no introduction, instantly grounding and utterly fond, a welcome center of Veronica’s life. Some new faces (a committed Gaby Hoffmann) join Neptune High alums (Krysten Ritter in the best of many cameos), lending nuance to subplots that otherwise skew a bit cut-and-dry in the service of revisiting as many old friends as possible.
Filmed with the visual finesse of a class project, it’s still hard to take Veronica Mars too much to task; naturally, a fan-funded film prioritizes seeing the whole gang one more time. For something so inherently insular, it’s uncertain if anyone but diehards will find satisfaction. But maybe, like any good in-joke, it’s only meant for the people to which it already means something.