Risky Endeavor Fails To Pay Off
Veronica Mars, the film adaptation of the cult-hit TV show, doesn’t quite come off as a major success -- but it’s not for lack of trying. When the “Veronica Mars” TV series, which ran from 2004-2007, was prematurely cancelled after its third season, its creator Rob Thomas envisioned spinning it off into a feature film. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. felt that although the series had a cult-following it wasn't significant enough for them to risk financing. The studio thought it could be a hit with fans but the general public might pass on a film based on a cancelled TV show.
In 2013, director Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell came up with an ingenious idea. They went directly to the fans by themselves. How? By going onto Kickstarter, a web page where you can collect donations from the public for creative projects. They laid out a proposal for a Veronica Mars film along with the goal of raising 2 million dollars. Then a funny thing happened: 91,585 fans donated to the campaign, which resulted in Thomas and Bell receiving over $5,000,000 to produce their film. So they went back to Warner Bros. -- and that studio distributed the film in theaters this past March for a period of two weeks. To recoup their investment, they also released the movie simultaneously to video on demand and to DVD after its run in theaters. The only downside? Thomas and Bell only had 23 days to complete the film.
And now to the story. It’s been nearly a decade since Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) departed the town of Neptune. Set to become a lawyer, she has caught the eye of Truman-Mann and Associates, one of the top firms in New York. But she is suddenly drawn back to Neptune when former boyfriend Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) gets accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend Carrie Bishop (Andrea Estella) -- a.k.a pop singer Bonnie Deville, who was found electrocuted in her bathtub. Instead of heading home to her boyfriend Stosh (Chris Lowell), who feels neglected now that she’s finishing law school, Veronica is sucked further and further into Logan's case. She knows there is far more to it than meets the eye.
I enjoyed Bell's performance as the bold, intelligent, sarcastic, and overly inquisitive title character. Gaby Hoffman stands out as the ultra-creepy Ruby Jetson, who has an unnatural obsession with Carrie and her alter-ego Bonnie Deville. Jerry O'Connell provides a solid supporting turn as Sheriff Dan Lamb, a man who doesn’t care about who murdered Carrie as long as the public believes in his suspect’s guilt.
The film's pacing seems incredibly slow. Director Thomas and co-writer Dianne Ruggiero were wise not to assume their audience consists solely of fans of the TV show. Viewers don't need to know the characters, the series and their back-stories inside out. Newcomers to Veronica Mars can easily follow the proceedings.
Veronica Mars isn't terrible, but if Thomas had been given more time to shoot the movie, it could have been much better. And I like the idea that this film can inspire other filmmakers to use fund-raising sites like Kickstarter to craft risky projects major studios might otherwise pass over.
(Rated PG-13 for sexuality including references, drug content, violence and some strong language.)