Box Office Democracy Review: “Veronica Mars”
In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I backed the Veronica Mars movie on Kickstarter. In addition to a myriad of cool perks this gave me, and thousands of other backers, access to regular updates on the process of making this movie, a level of access rather atypical today and totally unheard of a decade ago. I watched this movie grow from a cool pipe dream to an actual thing that is actually playing in theaters. This all adds up to a movie that I liked a great deal but am unable to assure myself that this affection is genuine, or is it more like the love a parent feels for their potentially mediocre child?
If you loved Veronica Mars when it was on TV you will almost certainly like the Veronica Mars movie. They took a story that feels an awful lot like what a season arc would have been if the TV show had run for 10 years and just strung together them all together without all the filler that was the individual episodes. There’s even a couple moments of genuine shock that feel like they’re about where sweeps would be in a traditional season. I enjoyed watching these stories play out over 22 episode seasons and I enjoyed it even more condensed in to a two-hour movie. Unfortunately fan-favorite characters like Wallace and Mac who were underused in the TV show are even more dramatically underused in the movie where there are no episodic B-plots to bail them out of story limbo. As a fan of both characters I’m so used to their exclusion that I didn’t notice how absent they were until the movie was long over.
All of the actors sparkle regardless of how much time they’re given. Considering the show has been off the air for almost seven years it’s stunning how completely on the mark every character is. It’s an incredible tribute to Rob Thomas’ skill as a director or his ability to pick solid actors. Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring fall right back in to sarcastic Veronica and smoldering Logan effortlessly. Equally on point are more minor characters like Ryan Hansen’s Dick Casablancas and Jerry O’Connell as the latest in the Lamb family of bumbling sherrifs. Krysten Ritter returns as Gia Goodman, a role she played for eight episodes of the TV show but bumped up to a major player this time around commensurate with the major breakout she’s had as an actress since her original turn.
The problem with this movie is, like all films, it has to answer to its investors and in this case the investors are the hardcore fans of the film. 91,585 fans of Veronica Mars pledged almost $6 million to get this movie made and there’s no way Thomas was going to send them away unhappy. This has the unfortunate consequence of taking the teeth out of two of the bigger moments of the film when beloved members of the supporting cast are imperiled. Nothing bad is going to happen to them because there’s too big a chance to upset people who paid way more than the price of a movie ticket to get the movie made and then in many cases also bought a ticket. It cuts out a lot of tension and I can honestly say I was most on the edge of my seat when I was concerned they were going to kill a stray cat. I enjoyed the movie, I’m thrilled to have backed it and if they put up a campaign for a sequel I’d donate right now but maybe there’s still some value left in the studio system.
Also coming soon, as a followup to the movie: