The Veronica Mars movie plots a new direction

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Fans revive the canceled “Veronica Mars” series through a crowdfunded campaign to give the teen sleuth new life on the big screen. Fans revive the canceled “Veronica Mars” series through a crowdfunded campaign to give the teen sleuth new life on the big screen.

During the closing credits in Veronica Mars, there’s a text crawl that reads: “This movie would never have been possible without the endless faith and support of our fans around the world, and especially the 91,585 backers who pledged on Kickstarter to bring Veronica back to life. Thank you for never giving up, and for helping us do the impossible.”

As a Veronica Mars Kickstarter backer and loyal Marshmallow, I’m glad I donated. I do wish Veronica Mars, the movie, were better.

As it is, Veronica Mars is basically a long, better looking episode of “Veronica Mars,” the canceled-too-soon Kristen Bell-starring teen private eye show from the mid-aughts, but without the freshness or pluck. It brings together almost all of the original cast (Leighton Meester, who played Carrie Bishop on the show, has been replaced with Andrea Estella, and Teddy Dunn does not appear as Duncan Kane). That includes Bell as Veronica, Jason Dohring as Logan Echolls, and Weevil (Francis Capra), Mac (Tina Majorino), Wallace (Percy Daggs III), and, delightfully, Enrico Colantoni as Veronica’s dad Keith.

Here’s what you need to know: Veronica left Neptune, California and Hearst College nine years ago. She finished her psychology degree at Stanford and graduated from Columbia Law. When the movie opens, she’s interviewing for an associate’s position at a big New York City law firm, and her boyfriend, Piz (Chris Lowell, who appeared in the show’s final season), works for Ira Glass at “This American Life.”

But then Logan is accused of murder (again) and screws everything up. Even though Veronica hasn’t spoken to him in nine years, she returns to Neptune to help him hire a lawyer when he calls.

It’s appropriate that a large part of Veronica Mars revolves around Veronica’s 10-year high school reunion, because much of the movie feels like a high school reunion. You know, it’s nice to see everyone, but it’s disappointing for a variety of reasons: In the movie’s case, the mystery at its center is pretty soft, and it features a retconned character who, from the moment he arrives on screen, feels off. He’s introduced as a Neptune High alum—it’s just that the audience has never seen him before.

For non-nerds, a retcon, or retroactive continuity, in movies and T.V. is used to alter previously established facts. For reference, see Chekov and Khan couldn’t possibly know each other in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and Marty getting angry at being called “chicken” in the two Back to the Future sequels.

Besides the retcon, there’s lazy plotting—lots of info gleaned when characters happen to be passing a T.V. or laptop, for example—that in the six years since the show was canceled could have been cleaned up.

For people who didn’t watch the show, it won’t matter. And really, it doesn’t matter so much for the movie, though as a critic I can’t imagine why non-fans would want to watch it. But if the whole purpose was to put Veronica back in action, mission accomplished and well done. Only Nixon can go to China. Only Veronica Mars can go to Kickstarter. And hopefully, if there’s another Veronica Mars movie, it resembles Wrath of Khan and not Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

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