Mar 20, 2014

'Veronica Mars': A Primer for Noobs

I want Veronica Mars to be a success, so here is my attempt to get butts in the seats. While it's true that the movie is mostly for fans of the television series, I sincerely believe that it can be enjoyable for everyone. You've got a great, noir-esque feel, a simple and engaging mystery, and a leading lady with all the right moves. Also most of the movie is pretty accessible from a non-fan perspective, and the first third is devoted to getting everyone caught up. Still, there are a few things that just don't make sense if you haven't seen the show. Below is a catch-up tool to make sure that nobody enters the theater without the proper knowledge. Dropping knowledge in 3...2...1...

1. Veronica Mars doesn't normally rock the straight blonde hair.
Veronica is unhappy in the beginning of the movie, even if she doesn't know it. The only way to tell is that her hair has lost its signature bounce and wave. Even when her hair is straight in the series, it never looks so sad. Later, when it gets bouncy again, it's because she's back in her element. It's called clunky symbolism, people. That, or straight hair is an easy way to represent 'New York', where all good people come to slowly die, one hair follicle at a time.

2. Veronica used to be a Private Investigator
That's like Veronica Mars: 101. At the start of the movie, she isn't a private investigator anymore. I wonder how long that will last?

3. Veronica Mars is all about class struggles.
The fictional town of Neptune is home to corrupt people of all ilks, from criminals and cops to your friendly neighborhood guitar salesman. Still, the series was less about corruption than it was about the strangeness of the pretty poor and the super rich coexisting in the same town (rich people need their dog walkers, limo drivers, and gardeners, too). While Season 3 mostly did away with that dichotomy to focus on (all caps) RAPE and MURDER, it's still at the very core of what it means to be a Neptunian.

4. Gia Goodman (Krysten Ritter) has a complicated relationship with Veronica.
Gia is a pretty big character in the movie, and she was also a big character in the second season of the show. Though Veronica's lower-middle-class situation ostracized her from many of the fellow students at her school, Gia was actually really nice (albeit very talkative). Her father, Woody Goodman, owned the town's professional baseball team and also coached kid's baseball. He was seemingly the nicest guy in the world, which is Veronica Mars code for THE WORST HUMAN BEING EVER. I won't spoil anything, but his downfall led to some bad blood between Gia and Veronica.

5. Weevil is a fan favorite.
Eli 'Weevil' Navarro has a long, seemingly pointless B story in the film, and you may be wondering why. Basically, it's because everyone loves Weevil, so it was important on a fan level to have him in the movie. In the series, Weevil is the head of a biker gang who wants to be a better person but who keeps struggling with societal glass ceilings because of his race, economic background, and criminal record. He follows a "2 steps forward, 1 step back" model for the series, and that also happens a bit in the movie. Of course, he doesn't really need to be in the movie, and, on a story level, his plot seems more like a set up for a sequel. I'm sorry...Squeakquel.

6. You need to ignore the weird tension between Veronica and her dad.
For some unknown reason, people cast as single dads with daughters sometimes have a weird chemistry with their children. I won't say sexual, but sometimes it's like that. We've seen in on ABC's Suburgatory and you kind of even feel it in Clueless. The overprotective parent can seem awfully close to 'jealous, overly-protective boyfriend,' especially in a series (and film) where 'jealous, overly-protective boyfriend' is an easy description for any of the male characters. To the show's credit, they've tried to at least own up to it with the "who's you're daddy" gag that popped up multiple times. For a new viewer, though, it's best to ignore it.

7. Veronica has a long, messy, crazy history with Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring).
Logan and Veronica (couple name - LoVe), a match made in heaven/hell, have been hot and cold for the entirety of the series. This was especially true in the third season, where they broke up and got back together approximately 5 million times. Veronica has both put Logan in and bailed Logan out of more jails than you can count, and Logan's father has tried to straight-up murder Veronica twice. Also, let's not forget that Logan used to date Veronica's BFF, before said BFF ended up murdered poolside. There's no denying their chemistry, which is why fans want them together, even if they're terrible for one another. Because Veronica can't trust people, and Logan is a 'jealous, overly-protective boyfriend.' He keeps trying to save Veronica, and she keeps trying to catch him in a lie to prove that all men, but specifically Logan, are bad news. Still...

8. Veronica's closest friends are Mac (Tina Majorino) and Wallace (Percy Daggs III) and Piz (Chris Lowell)
Veronica was the first friend Wallace made when he moved to Neptune in the first season, and their growing friendship is one of the strongest elements of the series. Veronica and Mac met when Veronica needed a computer genius (enter Mac), and the two have shared a friendship based on their matching brands of caustic wit ever since. Veronica became friends with Piz in college, and they dated briefly. At the start of the film (set 9 years after the end of the series), she is dating Piz again.

With those 8 tips in hand, Veronica Mars is a very enjoyable experience, even for the uninitiated. And, again, the first 20-40 minutes of the movie work to get anyone with ears and a pulse on equal footing with super fans. Also, Schmidt from New Girl is in it. Everyone loves Schmidt.
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