REVIEW: Like the series, which ran on the UPN from 2004 to 2007, the mystery at the heart of the movie is inconsequential. | ★★★ out of 4 stars
If “Veronica Mars” listed every contributor who helped bring the cult TV show to the big screen, the credits would be longer than the movie. That’s because “Mars” was financed by Kickstarter, a crowdsourcing Web operation that allows fans to make donations as low as $1 in exchange for everything from access to behind-the-scenes content to invitations to the red-carpet premiere.
The response was overwhelming. “Mars” managed to raise $5.7 million from more than 91,000 people, most of whom should be satisfied with a final product that stays true to the spirit and spunk of the original series.
Kristen Bell, who could still pass as a teen detective, returns in the title role a decade after she bolted from the not-so-sleepy town of Neptune, Calif.
She’s about to take her bar exam at Columbia University when she’s lured back by ex-flame Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), the prime suspect in the death of his pop-star girlfriend. The cry for help just happens to occur during Mars’ 10-year high-school reunion, an event that provides a good excuse for viewers to see some familiar faces, as well as some obscure cameos (hello, Ira Glass!).
“Look at us, falling back into our old rhythms,” Logan tells Veronica after trading jabs at the airport.
Like the series, which ran on the UPN from 2004 to 2007, the mystery at the heart of the movie is inconsequential. Anyone trying to follow the plot is better off attempting something less daunting, like getting through a William Faulkner novel.
The appeal of “Mars” has always been creator Rob Thomas’ dry wit, delivered with perfect deadpan timing by Bell, one of the few actresses who should be given license to serve as a narrator. As expected, the script packs in a slew of pop-culture references, everything from Kylie Minogue to “South Park” staples Terrance & Phillip.
Where “Mars” falls short is in its desire to flesh out the other characters who, with the exception of Dohring, are little more than glorified extras. What’s particularly disappointing is the lack of attention paid to Enrico Colantoni, who returns in the role of Veronica’s endearing father.
A spinoff with him in the lead role would be more than welcome.
Let the Kickstarter campaign begin.
Neal Justin • 612-673-7431★★★ out of 4 stars