Seven years and a famous Kickstarter campaign in the making, Veronica Mars finally made its grand jump from small to big screen on Saturday afternoon at the SXSW festival. Rob Thomas’ movie, brisk and fun and full of throwback love to the cult series, opens with Kristen Bell’s Veronica leaving a thriving life in New York City when her forever flame Logan (Jason Dohring, fine as ever) is suspected of murder. Her trip home to Neptune, Calif., coincides with her high school’s 10-year reunion, an event she’d penciled in years ago to studiously avoid. For fans of the series—and if you’ve never indulged, you’ve got a delightful binge ahead of you—it was a joy to see the old gang back together. The great folks behind Wallace, Dick, Weevil, Mac, Piz, Madison, Deputy Leo, and Best Dad Ever Keith Mars were all in Austin to celebrate, and treated the enthusiastic audience to a loose Q&A after the screening.
“This is such an extra special experience because it’s so humbling to know that the reason we’re here is because of you guys and because of all of our Kickstarter friends,” said Bell. In a humble nod to Kickstarter fans’ generous support, Chris Lowell (Piz) said, “I’m just shocked that I’m either on this stage or in the film. I thought I was going to have to be the $10,000 backer to have a speaking line.” When one fan asked Thomas, the man behind both the TV show and movie, when we might expect a stage version of Veronica Mars, the director joked, “I’m working on the book for the musical right now.”
Of all the afternoon’s adorable moments, none topped Enrico Colantoni’s (Keith) response to being asked how it felt to reunite with on-screen daughter Veronica after all this time. “She was this big, and then she was this big,” Colantoni said of Bell, gesturing to chest height and then chin height. “But like any parent will tell, it doesn’t matter how old they get, you still can’t not look at them like they were”—he paused, to lower his hand back down—”this big.” And then Veronica and her Dad—yeah, yeah, yeah, you may know them as Bell and Colantoni—had this very dear, slightly teary hug. Marshmallow melt.