S'more! S'more! S'more!

A dark and stormy day couldn't keep Veronica's Marshmallows away

There were audible gasps when Rob Thomas revealed the motivation behind his character Veronica Mars – then followed by a group "Awwwwww," mostly from the women in attendance at the world premiere of the movie sequel to the beloved TV show cut short in its prime.

Kristen Bell at the Paramount (photo by Sandy Carson)

One of Thomas' first gigs after college – he said in his appearance at the post-screening Q&A – was high school yearbook adviser, noting that the majority of yearbook journalists are girls. "I became wallpaper," the director said, looking nothing like wallpaper now, in a shimmeringly sleek blue suit, fresh haircut, and dapper new nerd frames. (Damn, he cleans up nice.) He observed, in those years, "how teenage girls think and talk," a vantage point many have had, but not approached as keenly or charitably.

Great female leads are few and far enough between, and as Thomas pointed out, even those characters (Buffy, Xena, WonderWoman, and Sydney from Alias come to mind) often have some sort of superpower, "I wanted Veronica's superpower to be that she just doesn't give a shit what people think about her."

We Marshmallows (from the first strains of Air's "La Femme D'Argent" in the first scene of the series pilot, I was hooked) definitely don't give a shit what people think of us, yet we're generally not insular about our love for the girl detective – our insane $5.7 million record-breaking Kickstarter to see this film made is evidence.

Kristen Bell at the Q & A (photo by KXM)

Kristen Bell clearly has embraced her character, and 10 years later still totally owns the role. She stood on the stage with her fellow cast, standing out in an awesome, fancy crop top dripping with sequined figures (which we'll just say were unicorns) and a gorgeous high-waisted black flounce skirt, and beamed about her relationship with the character, a synergy she understood halfway through the first season: "I was the most present I've ever been as an actress."

Saturday was one of those easy-going SXSW premieres. Badged attendees lined Eighth Street and wrapped around Brazos, while the south part of the block held an equal number of hopeful wristbanders waiting to get in. Perhaps due to the rain, many did.

Someone left the Marshmallows out in the rain (photo by KXM)

"So what is it about this movie? Why are people so excited about it?" asked the friendly green-shirted SXSW volunteer fella as I jockeyed for my position in the badge queue. As I inhaled and began waxing about writer/director Rob Thomas being a local boy, a Marshmallow quickly took over: "The characters! The writing! Veronica Mars is a great female lead character!"

From my unofficial headcount evidence at the premiere (I sleuthed around a bit; that's how I roll…), women out numbered men in the audience by at least 3:1. I encountered a number of groups of pals seeing the movie together, and interestingly, in every grouping, at least one pal was either not familiar with the show or had only seen a few episodes.

"So, you're a fan, and you're saying the rest of the series is as good as this?" I was asked by one effusive new potential fangirl. "Hell, yes," I said, welcoming the new Marshmallow.

Piz, Mac, snd Dad (aka Chris Lowell, Tina Majorino, and Enrico Colantoni) at the Q & A. (photo by KXM)

And while the film is not perfect (more Wallace, Mac, and Piz, please) and by its very nature as a retread treads precariously on the edge of relevance (the class conflicts inherent to the TV show's storyline seemed to lapse into cozy middle-class resignation), it delivers the goods to Marshmallows new and old. The new movie is as loaded with planted insider seeds as the TV show.

Here are a few kernels for Marshmallows without giving away too much:

• Was the Ruby Jetson character based on Marsmallows? Ruby, aka D. Pugh, is the obsessed fangirl and suspect in the murder of Logan Echolls' girlfriend, rockstar Bonnie DeVille, whom Ruby emulates. Gaby Hoffman's portrayal of Ruby feels like a strangely resonant riff on Hoffman's recent foray in Lena Dunham's Girls, as recurring character Caroline Sackler. They both dance like no one's watching. Not even Elaine Benes.

Bonnie Deville, is the stage name of Carrie Bishop, a bit character in a few episodes of the first season (originally played in the series by Gossip Girl's Leighton Meister). Here, she's played – in hind sight, similar to VM's Lily Kane, the "Laura Palmer" of the series – by Brooklyn band Twin Sister's lead singer Andrea Estella.

• Last week, Entertainment Weekly posted Austin rock legend Alejandro Escovedo's take on the beloved Veronica Mars theme, and Ouch! The comments! The Dandy Warhol's "We Used to Be Friends" is sacrosanct in Marshmallowland (the remix in the third season was also met with furor) and needless to say, those soft, sweet fans were not happy. I was one of them. I almost took to this blog using words like "overwrought," "completely off-base," "WTF, AL???" I am so glad I did not. I will never not trust Rob Thomas and Alejandro Escovedo ever again. The context of the song makes the version exquisitely ridiculous (no spoilers, sorry).

• There are self-referential asides, winks, and nods galore: Veronica's stint in the FBI, the Kickstarter campaign, and even Matchbox 20 (Rob. Thomas. Get it?).

It will be fun, as many of us Marshies noted on the walk out, to dissect this thing frame by frame to find what other early Easter eggs Mr. Thomas and crew hid for us.

To take major poetic license with a great quip from the movie (sorry, again, no spoilers): Kudos, Rob Thomas, for rockin' the Mars until it came back in style.

See Kimberley Jones' review of Veronica Mars here. And click here for our photo gallery from the premiere.

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw.

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