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Life on 'Mars': What to Know Before Seeing the 'Veronica Mars' Movie

Before you head into Kristen Bell's big-screen adventure, bone up on the cult TV show that spawned it

Kristen Bell in 'Veronica Mars'
Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment
March 13, 2014 1:15 PM ET

"A teenage private eye…trust me, I know how dumb that sounds."

Those are the opening lines of the upcoming Veronica Mars movie, and to say the film has been "highly anticipated" among the cult TV show's rabid fanbase would be an understatement. Some 91,000 "Marshmallows" — the nickname for the Veronica die-hards — contributed roughly $5.7 million to a landmark Kickstarter campaign to revive the beloved Nancy Drew-meets-Raymond Chandler series, seven years after the show was canceled by the CW.

Kristen Bell Reveals 'Veronica Mars' Movie Clues

After a whirlwind 24-day film shoot, Veronica Mars has finally made the long journey from the TV screen to the silver screen, premiering at SXSW last week and kicking off a 270-theater rollout on March 14th. (The movie will also be available via video on demand the same day.)

The filmmakers recently released the first two minutes of the film, and it's clear they are walking a careful line between appealing to fans and newcomers alike. People who have never stepped foot into the world of Neptune, Ca., shouldn't be scared off: The movie's opening sequence serves as both a refresher and an introduction for anyone who didn't watch the TV show's three seasons. Veronica (Kristen Bell) is now living in New York City as a law school graduate with her buttoned-up boyfriend, Stosh 'Piz' Piznarski. The real action kicks off  when she receives a call for help from her ex-boyfriend Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), who is accused of murdering his pop-star girlfriend. Even though she claims she doesn't really do the detective thing anymore, Veronica hops on a plane and lands in Neptune just in time for her high school reunion. 

If the opening scene doesn't assuage your fears that the movie will be too insider-y, not to worry: We've crafted a handy beginner's guide to the world of Veronica Mars.

  • Meet Veronica: As played by Bell, Veronica Mars is a sarcastic teenage detective with a heart of gold hidden under a snarky Sam Spade exterior. Her interest in crime-solving kicked into gear when her high school best friend, the rich and beautiful Lilly Kane (played by Amanda Seyfried), was murdered. Other investigations — a schoolbus accident, a serial rapist on the loose — would soon follow.

  • Her Father: Keith Mars (Enrico Calantoni), was the sheriff of Neptune, California. While investigating Lilly Kane's death, he wrongfully accused her powerful father — software billionaire Jake Kane —of the crime. Bad move.

  • Mars Investigation: The backlash from the accusation cost Keith his job and his marriage. Veronica's mother, Liane, developed a drinking problem and split town in the wake of the scandal. Keith then opened Mars Investigation, where he and Veronica were kept busy unearthing the secrets that plague the class-divided beach town. Rival P.I. Vinnie Van Go (Ken Marino) and the town's lousy, lazy police department to keep them on their toes. 

  • Her Anger: In the aftermath of being dumped by her boyfriend, Duncan Kane (Lilly's brother), Veronica is drugged with GBH and raped at a party held by the so-called "09er" rich-kid crowd.  When she went to report the crime, new sheriff Don Lamb called her a liar and kicked her out of his office. Needless to say, they don't like each other very much. While Lamb died, expect more Lamb-fueled fireworks in the film where Jerry O'Connell plays Lamb's brother and the new sheriff in town. 

  • Her Friends: Veronica retreated from the popular crowd, instead befriending basketball star Wallace Fennel (Percy Daggs III), and Cindy "Mac" Mackenzie (Tina Majorino), Neptune High's resident computer genius. Veronica also had contentious yet useful friendship with Eli "Weevil" Navarro, leader of a local biker gang called the PCHers.

  • Logan Echolls: Veronica started dating Lilly Kane's ex-boyfriend Logan, a troubled rich kid with a  M.I.A. mother and a movie-star father. Their rocky relationship hit one snag after another: First she found out he supplied the GHB that drugged her, and then she (rightfully) accused his father of killing Lilly after she stole the tapes he made of them having sex. Despite the bumps, they make it work. 

  • College: After high school, Veronica enrolled at Hearst College. Logan goes with her, but the couples' relationship can't handle Veronica's trust issues and Logan's self-destructive streak. 

  • The Resolution: Thomas said he intentionally gave the series an unsatisfying resolution, hoping the network might pause before pulling the plug. It almost worked too well, though, because while the network still cancelled the series, seven years later fans are still looking for resolution, which they will hopefully get in the new film. 

'Veronica Mars' and 60 Other Reasons to Love 2014

Got it? Good. And Marshmallows, take note: The movie isn't the last you'll see or hear of Veronica. Vintage Books signed Thomas to a two-book deal that would include stories set in the Mars-verse and, in an ironic twist, the CW —the network that cancelled the show in the first place — recently ordered a web-series spin-off featuring show regular Ryan Hansen. His character  — a fratboy-ish surfer-dude named Dick Casablancas — will play a parody version of himself trying to cash in on all the goodwill surrounding the revived show. There is still signs of life on Mars.

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