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And that shouldn't be a surprise. Given its reliance on Kickstarter contributions, Thomas said, "I wanted to give the people [who contributed] what they wanted."

In that, he absolutely delivered.

The plot is about clearing Logan. But the movie itself is about Veronica coming to terms with her identity. Bell said that in revisiting the role she was slightly worried that she wouldn't be able to "find [Veronica] as close to me" as she had when she was doing the television show. Thomas had always written dialogue that felt like it already existed in her head.

Happily for her—and us—it worked. The voiceover narration features Veronica's wry, distinctive musings, contemplating why, after so many years of trying to escape Neptune, she finds it impossible to turn her back on a place and a way of life that has been the source of so much pain.

The film is best in its character development. When you've spent sixty-four episodes with a character in a TV show, you get to know her well, so even smaller exchanges are infused with layers of meaning. We don't need the film to explain to us why Mac taking a job at Kane software is a big deal—we can just watch for Veronica's reaction.

Jason Dohring and Kristen Bell in 'Veronica Mars'Image: Robert Voets / Warner Bros. Entertainment

Jason Dohring and Kristen Bell in 'Veronica Mars'

It helps, too, that Veronica is a complex as well as a beloved character. She's smart and sassy, but there is an understandable element of anger in her, even rage. (In Buffy's pilot episode, the slayer turns to fight off her attacker; in Veronica's she admits that she was drugged and sexually assaulted at a party.) Like many victims of circumstance who have developed special skills to cope with dysfunctional environments, she wonders if she can ever go back to being normal . . . or whether there even is such a thing. As the daughter of an addict (mom is mentioned but does not appear in the film), she wrestles with questions of heredity and inheritance.

One of the best things about the television show was the father-daughter relationship between Veronica and former sheriff turned private investigator, Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni). Dad often had to remind Veronica that she wasn't an adult yet and even save her once or twice when she got in over her head.

In the film, Veronica is an adult, and now she has to remind him of that fact. That is hardly an unfamiliar trope, but rarely has it played out on big screen or small between a parent and child with such obvious loyalty and affection. Keith is not a major part of the film's plot, but I would argue that his presence is—and always has been—crucial in making us understand what really saved Veronica, not just from death but from self-loathing bitterness.

Young people long to be loved for who they are, not just for what they accomplish. Perhaps the greatest sign of the film's intelligence is that while Thomas strives to give fans "what they want," Keith's steadfast desire that Veronica have what is best for her carries an ever-so-slightly stinging reminder of our selfishness. Escape Neptune and have a successful legal career? No way! We want Veronica sitting at that desk forever. We want her to give us hope that bullies and power brokers may sometimes beat but never break us. Yet there is a great cost of carrying the hopes of others, of not being able to lay your burden down after a period of service. A part of us, a part of me, wanted Veronica to be able to move on, even as the fanboy in me kept secretly hoping for a hook to Veronica Mars 2 or a series reboot.

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