Veronica Mars

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[In theaters and Video on Demand.]

Attending your 10-year high school reunion is rarely a good idea, and neither is reuniting the cast of a defunct TV series. But the “Veronica Mars” movie makes the best of both situations, giving fans of the show what they crave while being accessible for newcomers who want a glossy, mid-grade whodunit with a sense of humor.

Thanks to an already-famous Kickstarter campaign and nobody having anything better to do, writer-director Rob Thomas and the entire cast are back, with recent law-school grad Veronica (Kristen Bell) coming home to investigate when bad boy Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) is accused of murder. Thanks to a plot contrivance (one of several), the visit coincides with the class reunion, so even the Neptuners who have moved away are home again.

Everything quickly falls back into the old rhythms: the snarky but affectionate banter, the self-aware, post-“Buffy” attitude (“Ready to head down to the Batcave?” Veronica asks herself), and the sweet relationship between Veronica and her dad (Enrico Colantoni). Wallace, Mac, Piz, Weevil, the whole gang’s here, some more vital than others. (We are forever yours, Dick Casablancas. But Weevil, we don’t have anything for you to do, sorry.) For the uninitiated, the film starts with Veronica’s ever-useful voice-over hitting the bullet points of the original story, then filling us in on what’s happened since.

I was a fan of the TV show, and the film hits most of the same notes, albeit in abbreviated fashion. What would have been a season-long mystery on The CW is a two-hour affair on the big screen — and let’s not kid ourselves, nothing about this (apart from a few swear words) distinguishes it from being a TV movie. It feels like the pilot episode for a new series: perfectly good entertainment, but do you really want to spend money on it? Then again, more than ninety thousand people already did spend money on it, and I suspect they’ll be pretty pleased with the outcome.

B- (1 hr., 47 min.; PG-13, moderate profanity, mild violence, mild sensuality.)

[A version of this review first appeared in the Portland Mercury.]

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