I’m in Minnesota visiting Elizabeth and Nathan (yesterday was, incidentally, the half-anniversary of their wedding). We’ve been plotting and scheming, sometimes even about books. But our series isn’t the subject of this blog post, no. See, last night, we watched the Veronica Mars movie. 

Elizabeth and I are fans of the old TV show, while Nathan had never seen anything of the franchise before this movie. Based on this sampling, it’s evident that while the movie is packed with extra goodies for fans, it’s laid out so that new viewers can hit the ground running with all the information they need.

Veronica Mars, for those who were in Nathan’s boat, is a 21st century Nancy Drew kind of story. You’ve got a teenager with a rapier wit worthy of Cyrano de Bergerac, the deductive reasoning of a younger Columbo, and a chip on her shoulder that occasionally reminds one of Wolverine from X-Men. Give her a mystery and she’ll charge right on through to get to the bottom of it, disrupting lives, unearthing secrets, and delivering choice insults along the way.

It’s a witty and fun series (except for the last several episodes of season three), and it’s one of those gems where you wish things had gone differently so that they could have kept going. An idea of skipping to where she joins the FBI was floated, but it didn’t pan out — and honestly, I wasn’t too crazy about it. The charm of the series really lies in the private detective aspect, not in a police procedural. No, Veronica Mars was dead and gone, living on only as a woulda-coulda-shoulda in the hearts of fans.

And then Kickstarter happened.

And then the Veronica Mars movie happened.

This project has been a true Kickstarter success story, and really demonstrates the way that crowdfunding can help even major projects by allowing ordinary people to help bankroll things before they hit the market. I honestly think more movies should be done this way, even the big-budget films chosen to get the extra marketing dollars. Letting the fans get involved rarely hurts.

I’d heard great things about the movie, but I still wasn’t sure what to expect when I sat down. As it opens, it’s been nine years since Veronica left Neptune, CA, attempting to leave her life as a private investigator behind. Familiar face after familiar face appeared on the screen, and we learned other things — Veronica and Piz are still together, Logan joined the Navy, Wallace is now a teacher and coach at Neptune High, and so on. Veronica has gotten degrees in psychology and law, is about to take the bar exam, and is applying for a position at a prestigious New York law firm when she gets deja vu all over again: Logan needs her help.

Veronica flies out to California, officially to help Logan choose a lawyer; but she quickly gets sucked back in to the sleuth’s life she left behind in her efforts to prove Logan’s innocence. Her father, who is still a PI in Neptune and butting heads with the corrupt police force he used to run, cautions her to get out before the town ruins her. And yet, as Veronica explains to the audience in the series’ trademark voiceover monologues, she’s addicted to the thrill she gets from chasing down a mystery.

Without giving away anymore of the plot, I’ll describe the closing shot. Veronica has turned her back on the New York life now, choosing instead to stay in Neptune. She thought she could walk away and declare victory, she tells us — but who can call leaving a win? Instead, she stays to continue fighting. “My name is Veronica Mars, and I’m an addict.”

The show has often traded heavily on noir themes, but never has it succeeded so well as in that moment. It left me hungry for more. I really want to know that there will be another movie, or — gasp! — maybe even a new series.

And they proved they could do a lot with just a little. As Elizabeth put it after the credits rolled, they stayed true to the show; they didn’t try to make it “bigger” just because it was a movie, and instead crammed half a season’s development into one film without making it feel cramped. The cinematography was amazing, the acting was top-notch, and — yes — the dialog was witty. We were laughing our heads off even as we were on the edges of our seat waiting for the next twist.

As I mentioned before, the fans of the series will notice a lot of references and callbacks and cameos. My favorite was when Leo, a former Neptune deputy sheriff Veronica goes to for information, remarks that he thought she was with the FBI. “Another life,” she replied — firmly placing the footage from the cancelled fourth season into “alternate universe” status. It was clever and well done, giving the information without the awkward infodumping that could have easily happened in another film (I’m looking at you, 2009 Star Trek).

This was truly an excellent movie and I highly recommend it to fans of mystery and witty dialog. Even if you never saw the series, you’ll be able to sit down with this movie yourself right away. I’m going to order my own copy, and wait eagerly for word of a sequel. In fact, I’m so impressed by this that I might just go get the two (canon!) novels they recently published.

Have you seen it? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!