Monday, March 17, 2014

The Veronica Mars Movie: Why You Need to See It

Almost 10 years ago, the very same day Flight Oceanic 815 crashed onto a not-so-deserted island, a young female Nancy Drew for the 21st century was introduced to audiences looking for a sharply written, well acted show. And Veronica Mars was it. The first season is one of the most perfect seasons of television ever: a "who killed Laura Palmer" type of mystery led to twists and turns and a satisfying conclusion at the end of season 1. Veronica was hilarious, quick-witted, beautiful, and an outcast at school, much like Buffy but without the supernaturalness. Her friends were multi-layered, her love life was complicated, and it became THE must-see show that season. (Along with Lost, of course.)

Season 2 was good, too; the case wasn't quite as strong, and it suffered from a few week-to-week mysteries that slowed down the overall narrative, but after a season of absolute perfection, it was bound to be not quite as perfect. It was still better than 95% of other television on at the time. The third season, on the other hand, was a disappointment. It felt like it had ended in the middle of a scene; the storyline was left unresolved, and the whole "Will she go with Logan or Piz?" question remained unanswered after it had been teased for so long. I still remember finishing the finale, thinking it was the penultimate episode, and telling my husband, "OK, let's watch the next one," only to realize THERE WAS NO NEXT ONE. We just sat there, jaws slightly open, in shock. It was like a punch in the gut.

"A long time ago, we used to be friends but I haven't thought of you lately at all."

The Dandy Warhols opening theme song might have been what made us fall in love with the show instantly in the beginning (my husband and I are huge fans of the Dandys), but its pop culture references and quick dialogue are what kept us there. And of course, there was a lot of Lost love on the show as well. Remember that time when Veronica opened the fortune cookie and her lucky numbers were 4 8 15 16 23 42? Or the time when the sheriff (V's dad) had to go out on a call and yelled out for two of his officers? "Kitsis! Horowitz! Come with me!" HA.

But where the theme song now seems apt in so many ways (a long time ago, we were all besties with Veronica and her crew), it's wrong to suggest that we haven't thought of her lately at all. In fact, when series creator Rob Thomas announced last year that they were thinking of doing a follow-up movie to finally tie up loose ends, but would need $2M to start, fans raced to Kickstarter to donate funds to get this baby moving. Within hours they'd achieved the goal, and ultimately ended up with a $6M budget. Depending on the levels, you could get a t-shirt, or a free digital download of the film the day it came out, or a signed script, and even a walk-on part at the really high levels.

The movie was released officially this past Friday (previews were the night before) and will be in theatres only until this Thursday. It's available for download on iTunes, and backers who donated $35 or more (including myself) got a free digital download.

I REALLY wanted to go see it in the theatre with other Marshmallows (what we call fans of VM) but a difficult babysitting situation arose and absolutely no one is available for the next week. So, I had to stick with the digital download. As many of you have probably read, the download was a clusterfuck of epic proportions, being offered only through Flixster, a terrible site, but you know what? If you just linked to the page, and set the thing up, and left the room, it would download 90% of it, give up, start again, get to 75%, give up, start again, and on and on and on and on until when you walked in a couple of days later, you had the movie. Ideal? In 2014, you shouldn't have to download it that many times. And despite the "download" nature of it, you don't actually have a copy on your computer and have to go to Flixster to watch it. And I'm really hoping my Internet provider doesn't say I used up all of my gigs in downloading just because it downloaded most of a 1.6G movie 50 times. Lousy? Yes.

But once it was on my computer, we hooked my computer up to the 60" television and watched it on the big screen.

And it was FANTASTIC. The writing was as sharp as it's ever been. Seeing old friends again was like going to a high school reunion. "Hey, look at her hair! Wow, he looks better than he did in high school! Whoa, what happened to THAT guy? Oh check her out. STILL a bitch."

And by the way, if you've never watched Veronica Mars and have felt left out all these years, the opening rehashes the first three seasons super-fast, so you'll be caught up. You won't get all the inside jokes, but they do re-introduce every character as they show up so you're not lost. (Only once, when Veronica went to see a former love interest, did it feel forced.)

Dick Casablancas STILL has all the best lines, and every time he's on screen my husband and I were in stitches (including a quick take he has at the actual high school reunion that is the single funniest moment in the movie). Veronica has gone away from Neptune and attended law school, and on the eve of interviewing for a job at a prestigious law firm, something terrible happens and she's called back home... to try to get Logan Echolls out of trouble. Again.

What's happened to Mac in the meantime? Weevil? Wallace? Keith Mars? Gina? And the ever-hilarious Dick? (To that last one: HE IS EXACTLY THE SAME.) You have to watch the movie to find out. I love that Kristen Bell has gone on to a successful career in movies, television, and even singing (at the end of March Break, I am SO HAPPY I don't have to listen to the Frozen soundtrack 15 times a day anymore), and yet she returned to Neptune and embraced her character like she's actually been living as Veronica all these years.

So I know the download has been unpleasant, and I know it's not in a lot of theatres. It's made $2M this past weekend on a limited release, which is a pretty stunning number. But go grab it on iTunes, hook it up to your TV (the cable isn't expensive if you don't already have one) and enjoy. So many TV shows were cancelled long before their time. But if other shows could actually find the support to bring us a movie like this one, just reuniting us with our favourite people for a mere two hours, I think the television universe would be a much, much happier one. Remember how happy Serenity made us?

I mean, hey, I know he somehow looks a bit older, but I'd still love to know what Spike's up to these days...


Theresa Fortier said...

Would totally finance the Spike movie myself if I could. :)

yourblindspot said...

MOST of Serenity made us happy. And then there were those moments that made us so very, very sad.

Curse you, Joss Whedon. Curse you and your sudden but inevitable betrayal.

Joel said...

I initially backed VM at the movie download level, but the DRM made me a bit hesitant. I just had a feeling the studio would screw it up. So I dropped down to the $1 amount and figured I'd go see it in the theatre. Well, babysitting also reared its ugly head so I purchased the movie on Google Play and watched it on my TV with Chromecast. Perfectly, without a hitch. Loved the movie. Hopefully enough of my dollars went the right way.

I read an interview where a cast member hoped for a continuation on Netflix. Maybe a short series along the lines of Sherlock. Now that would be amazing.

Page48 said...

"But if other shows could actually find the support to bring us a movie like this one, just reuniting us with our favourite people for a mere two hours, I think the television universe would be a much, much happier one"

Right on Nikki, but it takes a cast that isn't just willing to reprise their roles, but actually wants to. In other words, look for "Chuck" to return in fine form, but forget about "Alias".

Loretta said...

I am a backer (at a high enough level that I'm waiting for my signed copy of the poster...) and I still went to the theater to see it, which is not a decision that I regret. There's nothing like being in a theater surrounded by other fans who broke into applause and "awwww"ed at appropriate moments.

Suzanne said...

I am a backer, too. I saw it in the theater with my husband and son. It was a wonderful experience. My daughter couldn't go with us so we just watched our digital download. We were lucky because we didn't experience any glitches with the download. We had waited several days to do it, though. Watching it a second time was a blast, too, since we picked up on a lot of small details we missed the first time. I thought the movie was very well done, and I am so pleased to have been a part of bringing it to the big screen.