A long time ago, we used to be friends...
Ah, the mantra of Rob Thomas' cult television series about a murder, betrayal and memorable one-liners. The show launched the career of Kristen Bell back in 2004 proving female driven scripts could be great and still hilarious in a post-Buffy the Vampire Slayer world. But what if you've never seen the show? Had no interested in a spunky blonde teen private eye? Yet now you're curious about a movie that was financed (at least, partially) by a massively successful Kickstarter campaign? Look no further, non-marshmallows; all you need to know before getting rapt in the sass and wit that is Veronica Mars lies below!
1. The Film Opens With the TV Equivalent of "Previously, on Veronica Mars..."
Though the show aired for three seasons (2004-2007) the cold open in the movie suggests that the only real important stuff to know about happened in the first season, otherwise known as the best one. Back then, junior-year Veronica (Kristen Bell) was out to solve the murder of her best friend, Lilly Kane, who was seen in faux-colored flashbacks by soon to be starlet Amanda Seyfried. Veronica's dad Keith (the awesome Enrico Calantoni) was the former county sheriff of the sleepy Long Beach-like town of Neptune.
Now, both he and his daughter are town pariahs when the Kane murder case was botched. Armed with her trusty digital SLR, her dog Backup and some new pals, Veronica revealed by thenend of the season that the killer of Lilly was none other than famous Hollywood actor Aaron Echolls (played by former L.A. Law star Harry Hamlin), the father of Veronica's ex, the broody, misunderstood Logan (Jason Dohring). Throughout the first season, there's a possible incest plotline, roofies, and a Latino biker gang lead by the broody misunderstood 'Weevil' (Francis Capra). In fact, that's kind of the theme of the show as a whole; we're all a little broody, a little misunderstood. Veronica's strength via creator Rob Thomas and Bell's performance is her pluck and razor-sharp wit that rises above normal teen angst tropes. Veronica's verbal sparring matches against the rich and the poor never disappointed. The gal had balls.
2. The Returning Series Regulars Are, Thankfully, Only the Good Ones.
Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen) - Every fan's favorite jerk. He's Logan's best pal and way entitled. The flask belt buckle he dons in the film is a perfect fit for Dick.
Cindy "Mac" Mackenzie (Tina Majorino) - The token hack geek gal that aids Mars on her investigations, Majorino who played her was a real find for the show. Think Willow, but never got angsty or witchy.
Wallace (Pacy Daggs III) - With all due respect to the actor, Wallace should have been killed off by season one. He's great in the pilot, but ends up not much to do.
Vice Principal Van Clemmons (Duane Daniels) - This guy, I can't get enough of. Or rather, I can't get enough of Veronica's way of playing him. From the pilot...
Leo D'Amato (Max Greenfield) - Yup, Schmidt from New Girl played a hunky deputy way back when. He was barely on the show, but his appearance in the film is welcome nonetheless.
Piz (Chris Lowell) - The snoozefest-bland good guy that Veronica is currently dating.
Gia Goodman (Kristen Ritter) - Before Walter White let her overdose, she was Gia, who has more in common with Ritter's most recent ABC stint as the B in apt. 23.
Vinnie Van Lowe (Ken Marino) - The Joker to Veronica's Dark Knight if Joker were just a clueless clown detective. Marino was also exceptional on another Rob Thomas show, Party Down.
Dax Shepard - Bell's real-life husband slash baby daddy. Wordless cameo. Works for me, Crosby.
MIA... why no appearance by Desmond Fellows, the aged rocker played by Paul Rudd, who coincidentally co-created Party Down with Rob Thomas? Rudd would have familiar to non-Mars fans.
Then again, this next guy is pretty well known....
3. James Franco: Best Addition Who Needs No Introduction.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I am still quite amused when Franco plays himself - or at least a riff on his celebrity version of himself.
Also new to the series: Jamie Lee Curtis, perennial nerd Martin Starr (who also starred in Party Down), and *sigh* Justin Long.