By Sandie Angulo Chen,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Charming, bantery thriller is made by and for die-hard fans.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie, like the series, is concerned with standing up for the truth, even when it's inconvenient or difficult to unearth. Veronica makes unpopular and sometimes questionable decisions, but she's ultimate true to herself and who/where/with whom she wants to be.
Positive Role Models
Veronica is still a strong, independent, smart woman who has a close, admirable relationship with her father. She makes a couple of questionable -- but predictable -- decisions to return to Neptune and help the former love of her life. She sometimes breaks the law to get to the truth. She's also willing to stand up to powerful and popular people if it means clearing someone's name.
Violence & Scariness
Like the show, the movie contains some violence and a body count -- the victim of the movie's major mystery (who was electrocuted in the bath tub), plus a few others, including two people who are shot, another who's purposely hit by car, discussions of a teen who overdosed and drowned, and a couple of seriously injured characters.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two sex tapes are briefly shown, but neither shows more than people on a bed with some moaning (one is grainy and black-and-white without audio). It's clear two different couples have sex (one more than once), but the sex scenes aren't graphic (passionate kissing, shirtless guy, woman wears only a shirt).
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Occasional use of words including "bitch," "s--t," "s--tty," "dick," "crazy bitch," "a--hole," and one "f--k off."
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Products & Purchases
Several obvious product placements and references include Samsung computers, tablets, and phones (no one seems to own another technology brand); a BMW; YouTube; TMZ; Skype; IMDB; Diet Pepsi; Budweiser beer; New York Post; and Entertainment Weekly. Piz works at New York's NPR station with Ira Glass, who produces This American Life.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink cocktails, beer, and wine at parties, dinner, and a bar. A video of a man holding a bong is shown, and there's a conversation about a video of a pop star snorting lines of cocaine. Several twentysomethings discuss a night when a classmate died after they were all very drunk and high on drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Veronica Mars is the much-hyped Kickstarter-funded follow-up to the popular TV show that ran for only three seasons from 2004 to 2007. Starring Kristen Bell and the rest of the cast reprising their roles as the former Neptune High characters 10 years out of high school, the movie contains pretty much the same amount of violence, drug references, and passionate kissing as the series, but there's more strong language ("s--t," "a--hole," one "f--k off"), sexual innuendo, and a couple of love scenes. Like the show, the movie is about standing up for the truth and those who've been written off as guilty.
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What's the Story?
Nine years after the events of the show's third and final season, VERONICA MARS (Kristen Bell) is a Columbia Law grad interviewing at high-powered law firms in New York City and romantically with Stosh "Piz" Piznarski (Chris Lowell). On the eve of Neptune High's 10th reunion, news breaks that Mars' former flame Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) is once again a suspect in a murder -- that of his girlfriend, a famous popstar and fellow Neptune High grad. After nearly a decade of radio silence, Logan calls Veronica asking for help, and she decides to say yes -- returning to her childhood home to help her ex. Back in Neptune, Veronica -- much to her father's horror -- starts sleuthing again to help Logan, even though the decision comes at great personal and professional cost.
Is It Any Good?
If you watched the show, you're in for a treat, but if you didn't, this is still a worthy and well-written mystery/comedy. The best advice to prepare for Veronica Mars the movie is to watch all three seasons of the cult favorite on DVD or via a streaming subscription. Fans of the show will obviously be enamored with this theatrical follow up, which writer-director Rob Thomas seemed to write as one long thank you to the diehards who kept raving about the show long after it's premature cancelation. But you don't have to be a series follower to enjoy the movie. Sure, you may not get all of the inside jokes or quotes that reference the series, but you will still revel in the witty writing and the exceptional performances by actors who clearly love their characters.
Although the movie's central mystery is "who killed Logan's girlfriend?" (it obviously wasn't Logan, or Veronica wouldn't have flown cross country to help him), this is a story about how you can't escape your roots, about figuring out who you are and who you love, even if it's not exactly what you expected. Without giving too much away, let's just say that this is part mystery, part love story, part father-daughter drama -- just like the show. Most of Veronica's pals and former antagonists get some screen time, like Wallace and Mac (Percy Daggs III and Tina Majorino); Weevil (Francis Capra), Dick (Ryan Hansen), and Gia (Krysten Ritter). Even Bell's real-life husband Dax Shepard has a hilarious cameo.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the popularity of movies based on television shows. Why does Veronica Mars lend itself to a follow up? Does it answer unresolved questions from the show?
Discuss the movie as a standalone movie versus a follow-up to a TV show. Do you need to be a fan of the show to like the movie? What "extras" do you get as a viewer if you were a fan of the series?
To those who didn't watch the show: does the movie spark an interest in streaming or watching the series on DVD?
The movie was funded by a Kickstarter campaign and includes a lot of recognizable brands. Were the product placements obvious or distracting?
- In theaters: March 14, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: May 6, 2014
- Cast: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Krysten Ritter
- Director: Rob Thomas
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexuality including references, drug content, violence and some strong language
- Last updated: April 4, 2023
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