1) Veronica Mars - this film - exists because of a Kickstarter campaign that went live on March 13, 2013. The series ran for three seasons before being cancelled but gained an incredible cult following. Series creator Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell, and the rest of the cast had been hopeful about a movie being made for years before turning to Kickstarter. Their goal was 2 million dollars, they got that in less than 24 hours (breaking most of Kickstarter’s records at the time). They ended up with five million total dollars by the end of their campaign (which was broke the REST of Kickstarter’s records at the time). This movie is made by the fans, for the fans basically, and that’s awesome.
2) I first started watching “Veronica Mars” on Netflix DVDs AFTER the Kickstarter had come and gone, meaning I did not have to wait the seven years many fans did for a resolution to the series’ cliffhanger ending. I fell in love with the show instantly. I binged it as quickly as I could with Netflix DVDs (ie: not very quickly but passionately) and love almost every twist and turn. It is an excellent show and my love for it definitely in part fuels my love for the film.
3) The opening, “I need your help Veronica,” montage is a great way of starting off the film. For fans of the original series it reminds us of everything we’ve been missing for a while, and for people who have never seen a single episode it gives them enough info to understand the movie and its characters. And it has this wink to the fans of the show:
For all you newbies, fans of “Veronica Mars” refer to themselves as Marshmallows because of this line from the pilot. It was either that or “twinkies” and you can spell “Marshmallows” without “Mars”.
4) Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars.
It’s difficult for me to talk about Veronica as a character because most of my understanding of her as a character comes from both the film AND the TV Show. A lot of what I have to say is really going to be echoes of what @marshmallow-the-vampire-slayer has said in her fantastic recaps for the series. Veronica is strong willed, fiercely loyal, but she’s got some blinders on. If she decides you’re guilty or innocent, it is fact. That is just the way it is and she will not recognize the notion otherwise. But see, that does not come into effect in as huge a way in the film as it has in the show in the past.
Veronica is incredibly sharp. I will speak later on how physical strength is not one of her greatest attributes, but she more than makes up with it in wit and the ability to think on her feet. Tough as nails, with an incredible sense of humor (which in and of itself is probably a defense mechanism of some sort), Veronica is amazing. And Veronica would not be the Veronica we know and love if it were not for the truly perfect Kristen Bell.
There are some character who are just defined as much by the actors who play them as the writers who craft them. Veronica Mars is one of those characters. Kristen Bell inhabits all of Veronica’s qualities perfectly. Her contradictions, her strengths, her weakness, her love, her aggression, her need for intimacy with some people, her ability to be independent with others. Honestly in the same sense that Sarah Michelle Gellar IS Buffy or that Robert Downey Jr. IS Iron Man, Kristen Bell IS Veronica Mars and no other actress could ever play her with the same perfection as Bell.
5) Jamie Lee Curtis.
Understand that even though this film made more than twice what it was asking for in the Kickstarter campaign, five million bucks to make a movie these days is close to nothing. Comparatively speaking at least (although recent best picture winner Moonlight only cost 1.5 million so…). Most of the famous faces in this film - the small bits here and there like Jamie Lee Curtis in the very beginning - have some sort of working relationship with those involved in the movie (usually the actors). For example: Curtis worked with Bell in 2010′s You Again. I’m sure this most be some sort of favor to her.
6) This flip off is very Veronica. You can tell a lot about her way of handling jackasses and her sense of humor from this moment.
Gayle: Fifteen separate articles or briefs in cases ranging from multiple homicides to dognapping.
The season one episode “Hot Dogs” involves Veronica helping what was one of the kindest and most sincerely uncorrupted characters on the show (Mandy) help find her missing dog which she loved so much. I like to tell myself that is Veronica thinking fondly on this case which means little to others (especially when compared to multiple homicides) but one where she helped this really kind girl with something that really mattered to her.
8) Let’s talk briefly about the film’s “sex tape” references. Towards the end of season 3 a “sex tape” was released of Veronica and her then-boyfriend (and current boyfriend, at the start of this film) Piz. Except Veronica said she and Piz were just fooling around and didn’t actually have sex. We see the sex tape very clearly later on in the film, that has clearly been retconned. Painfully, too, as Piz is not exactly the most loved of Veronica’s boyfriends.
9) On that note…Piz.
I cannot get into the intense dislike people have for Piz without getting into how he was written and portrayed in the final season of the TV show (which was the season he was introduced in). In a nutshell, Piz was the Nice Guy™. As in the character who in reality isn’t really a nice guy, but is sort of a privileged manipulative white dude bro who thinks he deserves to be with a woman he basically sees as the female lead in his own personal romantic comedy. But the writers still write him as the “nice guy”. The movie does not have as much of that Nice Guy™ vibe to Piz though. It’s definitely still there though. He tells Veronica that he oversold her to his parents. That, “They cannot believe I landed a creature such as the one I’ve described.” But mostly Piz is kinda sorta not an awful dude. He seems to have some genuine feelings for Veronica but you can tell Veronica is with him just because he’s the safe choice. Because this is the clean life she wants. And that’s never who she was and so Piz isn’t dating the REAL Veronica. Piz is not interested in the REAL Veronica just the kind of girl he expects her to be and wants her to be. Even if he’s not a total dick about it in the film, that’s still what their relationship is.
HOWEVER I will say even though I may have issues with Piz as a character I do truly enjoy Chris Lowell as an actor. My distaste for how Piz has been written in the past is not a reflection on his performance.
10) Veronica talks about how Bonnie DeVille used to be known as Carrie Bishop. Carrie Bishop was featured in a few season one episodes of the show played by “Gossip Girl” actress Leighton Meester. Meester had scheduling conflicts with the show so they recast her part.
11) Never ever think too hard about the timeline or continuity in the Veronica Mars universe. Like…Logan is supposed to be a different age than her but they were still in the same graduating class or his dead girlfriend was a different age because she went to school with her brother who was…just, it’s confusing to think about it too hard. Just know that this film - while released in 2014 - takes place in 2016. Because the characters graduated high school in 2006 and their ten year reunion is featured in the film.
12) The theme of addiction is heavily featured throughout the movie, mainly throughout Veronica’s internal monologue. She constantly mentions her alcoholic mother while comparing her return to Neptune and the world of a PI to that idea. Not to mention Veronica described her past self as a, “possible adrenaline junkie,” within the first five minutes of the film. It’s a neat idea that gives the film a unique arc and helps it feel more than an extended episode.
With most of (if not all of) these characters, it is difficult for me to talk about them ONLY as they are presented in the film. Logan is someone who throughout the TV show had a very troubled life. His father beat him, his mother committed suicide, his girlfriend was murdered, the murderer turned out to be his father, he had been manipulated by many people he considered family, but he was good to Veronica (for the most part) when they started dating. He cared for her, truly. There was an honesty to their relationship, an ability to be himself, which he lost when she left. I think the second Veronica Mars book Mr. Kiss & Tell goes into this more (I read it two years ago), but Logan needed to get his life together post-Veronica. So he joined the freaking Navy. That first image of Logan already sets him up as a clean cut, mostly kept together man that is FAR different from the, “obligatory psychotic jackass,” we met in the pilot of the show.
Much like Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring gives Logan a lot of depth. The reason the character was given such a prominent role and more layers - initially - was because of Dohring’s skill as an actor. He is able to present Logan as mostly collected but still vulnerable. Still with a deep sorrow in his soul, still with a darkness to him. But we as an audience are invested in him as a character. We understand Veronica’s trust for him because we see just who he is around Veronica. The chemistry between Dohring and Bell is incredible. It is not just hot steamy chemistry (although it can be, more on that later). It’s a trust, it’s friendship, it’s an ability for these two to truly be themselves around each other in a way they can’t be with pretty much everyone else.
It is a truly wonderful performance and character we get to see in the film and I think the entire franchise of Veronica Mars would be far less without Jason Dohring and Logan Echolls.
14) It is fun how to see how easily Veronica slips into her old routine at her dad’s office. Also it goes into the idea of how an addict is more easy to fall into their addiction when they get into a certain habit. Veronica was addicted to being a PI when she was in Neptune, working with Logan, and helping at her dad’s office. Is it any wonder she can’t fight off the need to go back to that life when she’s in the town for less than a day and all these things have happened already?
15) Keith’s face when he sees Veronica!
We don’t get AS good a look as Keith’s relationship with daughter Veronica in the film as we did in the TV show (we got three seasons to examine it, after all), but it is still one of the best parent/child relationships to ever grace screens and the chemistry between Enrico Colantoni and Kristen Bell is great.
16) Although the film only had a budget from Kickstarter of about five million dollars, Warner Brothers studio was comfortable enough with the film that they paid an extra million (I think it was a million) for some reshoots to help make the story more understandable. The most noteworthy of these reshoots is the scene where Keith and Veronica are driving through town and discover a bunch of kids being framed up by the police, tazzed, basically abused for being “riff raff” and Keith being able to extort the police into letting the kids go by taking a video of them abusing their power. This was all told to the audience in the original shoot at the office scene, but the use of “show don’t tell” not only paints a grim picture of what kind off corrupt place Neptune is but also what kind of man Keith is. He really is - as his daughter says - the George Bailey of Neptune.
17) Mac & Wallace!
Again, if you like what you see of these two in the movie and want more…GO WATCH THE TV SHOW! The friendship Veronica forges with Wallace is one of the strongest in her life, second only to her father and even ahead of her relationship with Logan I think. He is there through it all. Through all the boyfriends, all the drama, all the times she’s a pariah, he is there for her. He helps her out, he does favors with her, and it is just such a beautiful and loving friendship.
The relationship Veronica has with Mac - while not necessarily as strong - is still great. Tina Majorino breathed such life into this character from season 1 who could’ve easily been a one off but ended up being second only to Wallace when it came to Veronica’s friends. The trio of them are great, and they’ve always got each other’s backs.
Otherwise known as: your problematic fave! Man, I don’t even know where to start with Dick. He’s…well…he’s a dick! But like a likable dick! Somehow Rob Thomas gets away with Dick doing some really awful shit in the show and still have him be Logan’s best friend. Dick in this film is - I think - mostly comedic relief (and, at one point, a suspect) and Hansen is just a lot of fun in the role.
A little note about Dick though. This line has way more significance than you would think:
Dick [after Logan’s potential lawyer makes a remark about his pot brownies]: “Medicine, man. I got my card. Chronic depression. You wouldn’t think, huh?”
That’s actually very telling about Dick. Season two ended with his younger brother being revealed as a mass murderer before killing himself, and there was some fair amount of time devoted in early season three to examining how Dick dealt with this.
19) This scene alone shows a lot of fun back and forth between Veronica, Logan, and the idiots of Neptune.
Logan [after these two Canadian drunks call a girl a crazy bitch at karaoke night]:
Veronica [internal monologue]: “You know what? It’s a one time deal. A farewell tour, if you will. [Sees hot as fuck Logan] Then again, you ever hear the one about the junkie who was satisfied with just one more taste of the good stuff?”
Veronica [about being able to hide cameras in anything]: “My dad has a trucker hat that’s rigged with a camera -”
22) There’s this rule Pixar has with writing: a coincidence that gets the character into trouble is plot. A coincidence that gets them out of trouble is cheating. The fact that Veronica is able to get into someone’s house by saying she’s doing a location scout for a Clint Eastwood movie only for that person to have a connection to Clint Eastwood falls into the former of those two categories.
23) This film THRIVES on fan service which also serves the plot. For example, Veronica - like she did all the way back in season one - calls Wallace for a favor.
Veronica: “Hey Buddy! I need a favor. Can you get me a student’s permanent file?”
Wallace: “You do realize that I’m a teacher now, Veronica? An educator? This is a position of responsibility.”
Veronica: “So you’re saying it’s gonna be super easy. Good. I did NOT want to put you out.”
The theater I saw this in - with quite a few Marshmallows - all found this scene hysterical.
24) The inclusion of Deputy Sacks is a nice way of bringing in even what some would call the smaller characters into the film. AND it ends up working out really well.
25) Jerry O’Connell as Sheriff Dan Lamb.
The perfect personification of slime and corruption in Neptune. Lamb’s brother Don Lamb was the incompetent (and assholish prick of a) sheriff throughout most of the show, and somehow they made his brother even worse. At least Don Lamb would OCCASIONALLY do his job if presented with enough compelling evidence. Meanwhile Dan is even more egotistical, even says at one point he doesn’t care if Logan is innocent or not, and later in all likelihood tries to have Keith killed. Jerry O’Connell plays Lamb as wonderfully vile. A villain you love to hat.
26) I love that this film brings in so many memorable characters from the TV show, even though some are limited to one scene. But that one scene is enough for us to remember why we love them. This is very true for Daran Norris as Cliff McCormack, Neptune’s resident public appointed attorney.
27) It is interesting seeing how these characters have grown in the seven years since the TV show ended. For example, Veronica is able to show off QUITE clearly that she spent a considerable amount of time at law school when she’s defending herself at the police station.
28) The whole scene at the 09er is very entertaining, if for no other reason than a trio of fun cameos we get. We see exactly the stupidity of the “cool kids” at Neptune, we get the series’ first use of the word, “fuck,” AND we get Veronica’s trademark sass. Also we get this nice moment between husband & wife:
29) But the 09er scene is NOTHING compared to the reunion at Neptune High.
The entire graduation scene perfectly shows off the film’s ability to balance out fan service AND move the plot forward. It brings back almost all the memorable characters from the TV show, friends and enemies a like. And for you who haven’t seen the show, we get a very clear picture of just how much Veronica “enjoyed” high school.
Veronica: “In a lesser known epic poem, ‘Dante’s Inferno 2: Hell Freezes Over,’ ten years after escaping the nine circles, Dante returns. You know, for old times’ sake. Have a couple shots, catch up with the gang…”
Madison [as Veronica approaches]: “Name?”
Veronica: “See if Lucifer’s still a bitch.”
We get a see of characters in this scene.
Madison Sinclair is still an entitled, judgmental, condescending asshole.
Gia Goodman (played by the incredible Krysten Ritter of “Jessica Jones” fame) is REMARKABLY different from the last time we saw her. Back then she was a chipper, positive (if a little naive) young woman. Then Veronica exposed her dad as a pedophile to the world, he was killed by Dick’s brother in a plane explosion, and some really awful psychotic shit went down where she is basically owned by a man named Cobb (Martin Starr). Gia is likely the most changed character since the TV show and Ritter’s amazing range supports that.
Eli ‘Weevil’ Navarro has gotten his life together, which is an incredible thing to see from the former member of a bike gang. He has a daughter, he has a wife, he is reformed! But of course Neptune is gonna tear him back down.
We even get a chance to see Horny, the recurring comic relief and nice dude from the show, in a little moment which I as a fan appreciate.
Edit: I have had it pointed out to me that the character’s name is Corny, not Horny is I’ve thought for four years. You can find the reply in notes, but I’m going to leave the name as I originally thought so you all know my shame.
30) The high school reunion also serves as a turning point for the story. Veronica realizes that Carrie’s death is tied to the death of her friend Susan Knight YEARS ago on Carrie’s father’s boat. And now her investigation has some more direction.
31) When you watch the works of Rob Thomas (the writer, not the singer) you find he is wonderfully aware of his famous name-twin.
Piz [about talking about some 2006 music]: “Maybe some SOLO Rob Thomas.”
That’s nothing compared to what we got on “iZombie” though.
33) A great peek at how Veronica is not as alone as she may think is after Madison (asshole) shows Veronica’s sex tape at the family reunion. For one thing Wallace is immediately at Veronica’s side, running to turn it off. Then Wallace, Logan, Weevil, Dick, and Piz (at least. Maybe Horny too, I’m not sure.) all jump into a fight with the assholes who want to put the tape back on. A great recall from this line:
34) Principal Clemmons is another example of a great supporting character from the show making a brief but appreciate appearance in the film.
35) Veronica at the reunion’s after-party is very much her being in her natural environment. The scene where she’s dancing and it cuts to slow mo is very predatory to me. She is a lion ready to pounce on its prey. This is her in her element and its great to watch.
36) Martin Starr as Cobb is a…unique new character in the film. He was not in the show at all and now he’s part of the group of established characters. In hindsight it’s obvious that he’s the evil mastermind of it all (spoiler alert).
37) Veronica impersonating Martina Vasquez to get info out of Lamb is as nice callback to the series while also showing new viewers just how crafty she can be.
(GIF source unknown [if this is your GIF please let me know].)
Leo was like the best boyfriend Veronica had on the show who wasn’t Logan, an actual nice guy and not Nice Guy™. Max Greenfield has gotten a lot more recognition lately for his memorable turn as Schmidt on “New Girl” but he’s GREAT on the show and in this film. He only has one scene but it’s a bit bigger than say Cliff’s scene or Clemmons’ scene, and him screwing with Veronica by pretending to not remember her is a lot of fun.
Leo: “By the way, I didn’t know the FBI was looking into the Bonnie DeVille case.”
Veronica: “I’m not with the FBI.”
Leo: “You sure? I could’ve SWORN I heard somewhere that you were in the FBI.”
Veronica: “Another life maybe.”
Rob Thomas pitched a drastically altered version of the show which would have seen Veronica join the FBI in season 4. I’m kinda glad it didn’t work it, but they shot this pitch:
“My producing partner, Danielle Stokdyk, her husband is an Academy Award-winning visual effects artist who happened to have just done ‘Oz the Great and Powerful.’ He had become friendly with James, and it really was easy as this: I emailed a script and said we’d love you for this part and honestly five minutes later, five minutes later, he emailed me back and said, 'sounds fun, I’m in.’”
41) Add Vinnie Van Lowe to the list of fun appearances from the show!
42) According to IMDb:
In one of the shots, a man dressed like a gorilla was needed to dance in the foreground while Kristen Bell and Ken Marino played a scene on a bench. Ryan Hansen had just wrapped his last scene in the film a few hours earlier and was hanging out on set and agreed to do the scene. Rob Thomas and Ryan then decided to prank Kristen and Ken, who didn’t know it was Ryan in the gorilla suit. The stint made the DVD bloopers reel.
43) Veronica cannot say, “I know what happened,” without me thinking of this:
(GIF source unknown [if this is your GIF please let me know].)
45) This line that Deputy Sacks has is very telling about who he is as a character, his conflict, and what is up in Neptune.
Sacks: “I saw this thing on, uh, YouTube a few weeks ago, Keith. It’s a funny video. A…uh…two nazi they’re uh…looking at the skulls on their insignias and the piles of dead bodies. And they have this moment of clarity. Wait a minute…we’re the bad guys.”
46) Deputy Sacks’ death is a surprisingly powerful moment. This is a character who has been around since the pilot in 2004. Someone who was always there and who Veronica or anyone else never got super close to. But he was always there, always a good cop, and the sorrow of his loss is seen in one simple unanswered question:
Doctor: “Was he a friend of yours?”
47) The following LoVe love scene (LoVe is the ship name for Logan + Veronica) really shows off how these two not only have a chemistry built on being able to be themselves, but also the fact they’re each INCREDIBLY attracted to each other and just have this raw sexy passion. There is a tenderness, a connection, a heat to them that is just unmatched by any of her other boyfriends.
48) Remember how Veronica is sort of an addict?
Veronica: “The only way I’m not going to spend the day obsessing about my dad is by nailing Gia and Luke to the wall.”
49) One of Veronica’s most defining character traits is that when she decides a person is guilty, they are guilty. And it takes a lot for her to alter her theory or her idea of what is going on. This is seen when she is watching Gia and Cobb hook up, and she comments…
Veronica: “Gia seduced her lap dog into killing Carrie.”
There is NOTHING about that scene that shows Gia initiating sex with Cobb, it’s totally Cobb doing it. But Veronica can’t see that, she only sees what supports her theory. And then there’s this line that shows what she thinks of Gia.
Veronica [after Logan warns her to be careful]: “Child please, it’s Gia Goodman. The day I can’t handle Gia Goodman…”
This is very much a line that would be applied to high school Gia, not this new Gia. Veronica has little to no idea who this new Gia is.
50) The following scene between Veronica and Gia is a great character moment for Gia. Krysten Ritter’s skills as an actor show us just how tortured and trapped this once kindhearted and positive girl was, and it’s heartbreaking.
51) The entire climax (where Cobb has Veronica trapped in Gia’s apartment building) is very tense. Cobb has the upper hand physically and Veronica knows that. She has to play this confrontation by hiding, being patient, and outsmarting Cobb. And she does! It is wonderfully paced and choreographed and just a great moment of tension.
52) My biggest criticism of this film is that I’m always surprised by how quickly it wraps up, but it’s also something I’ve gotten more comfortable with in repeat viewings.
53) The metaphor of Veronica as an addict has never been clearer than her last lines of the film (an internal monologue).
Veronica: “My name is Veronica, and I’m an addict. Hello Veronica.”
54) Logan often had inspirational messages on his voice mail in the show. This message which plays over the end credits is very nice.
Logan: “This is Logan reminding you: if you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask which seat, just get on. Sheryl Sandberg said that. So don’t leave a message. Go get on that rocket ship. Or, leave a message. Your call. Your decision will tell me a lot about you.”
That - to me - seems very telling about the film. They took a chance on asking fans to finance it and it turned out wonderfully! They got on their rocket.
This recap ended up being much longer than I intended. And there’s still a lot here I can talk about which I haven’t. And that is very telling of the film. There is a lot to dissect, a lot that works and is going on in the movie. The writing is incredible, with a good balance of fan service and plot. The acting is as good as it ever was on the show, Rob Thomas’ direction is great, and it is just what fans who were waiting seven years for closure deserved. A great, great film and a fantastic potential finale to the series.
My boy chrisfanning93 asked for some Indie movie suggestions. I took his request too seriously and pulled a few from my master list (btw I’m a nerd with a master list) of favorites.
1. Short Term 12
In my opinion, Short Term 12 is everything an indie movie should be. Writer/director Destin Cretton is talented (he went to my school!) and Brie Larson is killer.
2. Blue Like Jazz
It was blacklisted in a lot of Christian media for ‘straddling’ the line between faith based and non-faith based film with qualities like swearing, a homosexual major character, and a resolution that doesn’t involved God granting everyone’s prayers like a genie. So it’s like real life.
Favorite Coen Brothers film by far. Everything gets crazier by the minute and it’s all perfectly constructed chaos.
4. It’s a Disaster
Kind of a sucker for Julia Stiles movies, and I don’t know why. It’s a Disaster is funny, unexpected, and it’s set in Austin (home state pride what).
5. A Bag of Hammers
I try not to, but I literally judged a book by it’s cover and didn’t watch this for the longest time because the poster is lame. I’m glad I saw the error of my ways.
6. Robot & Frank
I’m looking forward to a future where we have sick robits like Robot. Robot & Frank is great if you’re looking for a dose of originality, heartfelt…ed…ness?, and the Phil Collinsy sounds of Francis and the Lights.
7. The Brass Teapot
7. A story fit for the Twilight Zone, the Brass Teapot follows the dissolution of a young couples relationship due to a magical teapot that makes them money every time they hurt each other. I feel like I don’t need to say more.