'Veronica Mars' Movie Is So Good, Expect a Sequel

PHOTO: Jason Dohring, left, and Kristen Bell in a scene from "Veronica Mars." PlayRobert Voets/Warner Bros. Pictures/AP Photo
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Rated PG-13

Three-and-a-half out of five stars

Kristen Bell became a star playing the title character in the "Veronica Mars" TV series: a quick-witted teenaged private eye specializing in exposing the dark underbelly of the fictional, affluent beach community of Neptune, Calif. Sort of a bizarro Carrie Bradshaw, if Carrie had been a teen sleuth. Many critics believed Bell's performance was worthy of an Emmy nomination. Instead, the critically acclaimed show was canceled in 2007 after three seasons.

Since then, fans have clamored for a movie, but it wasn't until series creator Rob Thomas raised a record $5.7 million last year on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter that the film -- this film -- got made.

The movie opens with Veronica narrating a montage of scenes that explain the basics of what anyone unfamiliar with "Veronica Mars," the series, needs to know to enjoy "Veronica Mars," the movie. Then we settle in to present day, where Veronica is in New York on the verge of taking her bar exam and becoming a lawyer. As one would expect, she's interviewing with a top-notch law firm, headed by Jamie Lee Curtis. Interesting for fans: Veronica is dating Stosh "Piz" Piznarski, who now works for public radio in the movie.

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The fun begins when one of Veronica's old high school classmates, Carrie Bishop -- now known as Bonnie deVille, a huge pop star -- is murdered. The accused? Veronica's old bad-boy flame, Logan (Jason Dohring), who now is, or was, Bonnie's boyfriend. Veronica hops on a plane and heads to Neptune to help him out.

While she'd like to think she can do it all herself, Veronica is again going to need the assistance of her dad, Keith (Enrico Colantoni) and all of her old Neptune High buddies, including Mac (Tina Majorino) and Wallace (Percy Daggs III). She'll also bump into other familiar faces, including surfer/post-modern chauvinist philosopher and man-child Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen), a never-ending source of both amusement and animosity for Veronica. Your inner 12-year-old will laugh every time he shows up.

It becomes instantly clear that old feelings die hard -- or simply don't die -- as Veronica helps clear Logan's name, despite having to deal with various former enemies, a corrupt sheriff's department, a boyfriend in New York, and a major job opportunity.

Fear not, marshmallows! Your generous Kickstarter cash has been used to create a crafty piece of small-budget filmmaking. While it's not a whodunnit on the level of "The Usual Suspects," Rob Thomas's well-constructed story is full of the humor and tension fans of the show loved, and then some. I have a feeling this isn't the last "Veronica Mars" movie we're going to see.