‘Veronica Mars': The Reviews Are In

A long time ago (on TV) we used to be friends. What about the movie?

A long-unsolved mystery is poised to be cracked this weekend, when audience members decide whether to go see the reincarnated “Veronica Mars” movie: Can a short-lived show that’s been canceled for the better part of a decade find success on the big screen? Sure, fans loved the series enough to quickly throw record-breaking amounts of money behind the film on Kickstarter last spring, but how will the finished product stack up to the dream of the movie?

Critics have had their shot at the feature-length take on the sassy detective they first met as a teenager. Now she’s all grown up and out of the private eye business — or so she thinks. Like Michael Corleone, just when Veronica (Kristen Bell) thinks she’s out, she just gets pulled right back in, returning to her hometown of Neptune, Calif. to help former flame Logan (Jason Dohring) clear his name when he’s accused of murdering his pop star girlfriend. Read on for critics’ takes on the mystery of Veronica Mars and the Kickstarter Movie.

A Very Long Episode
“There’s no doubt that Thomas and the “Mars” cast and crew returned to Neptune all these years later because of a deep, abiding love for the series and its characters. However, it’s that same love and loyalty that keeps “Veronica Mars” the movie from feeling like anything more than a 107-minute long episode of the show, at best. The movie comes off like a sitcom pitch, a way to show networks or Netflix that a grown-up Veronica Mars deserves a shot at a series. It would be a real shame if this didn’t get picked up as a series, but that doesn’t mean it’s a particularly great movie by itself.” — Jenni Miller, Film.com

Go Big Screen Or Go Home
“I never really bought the plot of the Veronica Mars movie. Her investigation into a murder that has grabbed global headlines hinges on all these people she knows? And even intersects with her 10th high school reunion? There’s something impossibly small-screen quaint about it all. Yet as directed by series creator Rob Thomas, the movie, like the show, is entertainingly fast-talking in a tidy, faux-serious way.” — Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Thank You For Coming
“The intangibles, however, are all in favor of ’Veronica Mars.’ The film has a reunion feel — including an actual high school reunion — that fills the movie with good vibes. The subtle infectiousness is reminiscent of the first ’Star Trek’ movies. The actors, director and crew are clearly very grateful to be making this film, and that feeling seeps into the theater.” — Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle

A Long Time Ago, We Used To Be Friends
“Without the emotional and financial support of the diehards, this crowd-funded revival — a big-screen extension of a canceled small-screen gem — would never have made it into multiplexes. Thankfully, the Veronica Mars movie wastes only a fraction of its precious running time on such winks and nudges. (There’s also an acoustic rendition of the Dandy Warhols anthem that kicked off each episode.) But for better and worse, series creator Rob Thomas has crafted a feature-length exercise in fan service — a game if slightly futile attempt to condense a whole season’s worth of detective work, SoCal melodrama, and whip-smart banter into one load-bearing film.” — A.A. Dowd, A.V. Club

How-To
“I cannot speak to the experience of watching the new Kickstarter-fundedVeronica Mars movie without ever having seen Veronica Mars, the teen-detective TV series that ran for three seasons on UPN and then the CW from 2004 to 2007. But as someone who did watch–and love–the show, my recommendation to those of you who have not is: Go watch the series, all of it, then wait seven years. Then watch the film. Does that sound insane? The surge of delayed gratification that will wash over you upon being reunited with Veronica Mars, the surliest of blonds, and her snap-crackling fictional universe, will make it worthwhile.” — Willa Paskin, Slate

“Veronica Mars” hits theaters March 14.