'Veronica Mars' is still made for small screen

MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICEMarch 21, 2014 

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Unable to secure a Treefort photo pass, Veronica Mars was forced to shoot The Joy Formidable from behind the Porta-Loos.

  • VERONICA MARS •• 1/2•

    Rated: PG-13 for sexuality including references, drug content, violence and some strong language. Starring: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, Krysten Ritter, Jerry O'Connell. Director: Rob Thomas. Running time: 107 minutes. Theaters: Flicks, Majestic 18 and Village Cinema in Meridian.

Fan-demanded and fan-financed, "Veronica Mars" represents some sort of new movie making paradigm. If you love something so much that you'd "pay to see that," you can now turn that dream project into a big-screen reality by ponying up a piece of the production financing yourself.

From a fan's standpoint, that's kind of cool. This movie caters to them.

But as another in the rich tradition of private detective thrillers, the big-screen "Veronica" isn't just for fans only. Almost, though.

A generic murder mystery with the private eye narrating the investigation in voiceover, this class reunion dramedy chugs along on the good will the cast built up over the show's 2004-2007 run. Co-writer/director Rob Thomas tailored this to run on the familiar set-up/joke rhythms of a TV sitcom, custom fit for the vulnerable, hesitant sass of Kristen Bell, his star.

It's self-conscious to a fault. It plays as melodramatic, and a little dated. And when it comes to laughs, it tries too hard, like a 30-year-old straining to get her senior-year skinny jeans to fit.

As Veronica says, "Old habits die hard."

So when her one-time nemesis-turned-lover Logan, now in the Navy, is accused of killing his pop-star girlfriend, Veronica answers the call. She'll fly cross-country to Neptune Beach, where the dead pop star also was a classmate back when they were in high school a decade ago. Veronica is sniffing around this case that she promises her dad she won't get caught up in just as her dreaded 10-year reunion is happening.

But the filmgoer is constantly reminded that this was a TV show, after all, as most of the players are TV bland - emoting only from the neck up. And even at that, it takes them a while for them to get their feet back under themselves.

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