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dir Rob Thomas
scr Rob Thomas, Diane Ruggiero
prd Rob Thomas, Dan Etheridge, Danielle Stokdyk
with Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Krysten Ritter, Enrico Colantoni, Chris Lowell, Martin Starr, Tina Majorino, Francis Capra, Percy Daggs III, Ryan Hansen, Gaby Hoffmann, Jerry O'Connell
release US/UK 14.Mar.14
14/US Warners 1h47
On the case: Bell and Dohring
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Reuniting the cast and crew of the cult TV series, this film is snappy and entertaining, with a twisty plot and lively characters we'd like to see developed further. Being unfamiliar with the series, the film still holds water, although it does feel like an extended reunion episode.
Nine years after leaving seaside Neptune, California, behind, Veronica (Bell) is up for a great job as a New York lawyer. But a murder back home sparks her interest, and she returns to help her friend Logan (Dohring), the prime suspect, prove his innocence. Reunited with her pals Mac, Weevil and Wallace (Majorino, Capra and Daggs), as well as her private eye dad (Colantoni), Veronica gets deeper into the case than she expects, causing problems with her boyfriend Piz (Lowell) as well as old classmates Gia, Cobb and Dick (Ritter, Starr and Hansen).
Of course, the key question is: whodunit? Not only are there rather a lot of suspicious characters to keep track of, but the plot cycles through a tangled range of story-threads and red herrings. Everyone on-screen seems vital to the plot, forcing us to work to understand the connections between them, kind of like dropping into a soap opera mid-stream. Fortunately, the important elements rise to the top, and those us us unfamiliar with these characters don't feel too lost for too long.
It also helps that Bell is so much fun to watch at the centre, with her sassy comebacks and sexy-smart attitude. She effortlessly helps us understand Veronica's various complex relationships, as well as her love-hate connection with Neptune itself. A slightly mannered voice-over narration helps keep the focus, as does Bell's terrific chemistry with Dohring and Colantoni, to name two. But alongside Bell, everyone else looks a bit dull, frankly. Except perhaps dopey surfer Dick (Hansen) and stalker chick Ruby (Hoffmann).
Yes, there are plenty of silly touches to keep us chuckling along the way, including a hilarious cameo by James Franco as yet another heightened version of himself (stick around for the credits if you want more). And in the end the film subtly undermines the usual message about the American Dream, reminding us that the most important things in life are generally those that we feel most passionate about.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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