Kickstarter-funded Veronica Mars film delivers what the fans want.
Even if you'd never heard of the Veronica Mars television series, chances are high you've heard about the film, funded from one of the largest Kickstarter campaigns the site has ever seen. Back in March 2013, over 91,000 "marshmallows" (as fans of the show are known) donated their money to see their favorite private investigator back in action. Almost exactly a year later, the film had its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival.
I'll admit to being biased. I first watched Veronica Mars after the Kickstarter was announced. It had been on my to-watch list for years, but the hype it received after its campaign launched finally had me searching out episodes. After binge-watching three seasons over a month, I completely understood the hype and backed the campaign to ensure I'd receive a digital download of the finished movie.
Many were skeptical to see how the series would be translated to the big screen. Series creator Rob Thomas (also the film's writer and director) made clear beforehand that because the film was fan-funded, he wanted to make sure the film was full of fan-favorites. And boy did he deliver. For better or worse, Veronica Mars, the movie, reads like an incredibly satisfying movie-length episode of the television series.
The basic premise is that Veronica (Kristen Bell), a teenaged super sleuth, hasn't worked a case in eight years, not since she left her hometown of Neptune, California. She went on to law school and is now living in New York interviewing for her first lawyer job and dating nice-guy Stosh "Piz" Piznarski (Chris Lowell). That is, until she gets a call from bad boy ex-boyfriend Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) who needs her help proving that he didn't murder his pop star girlfriend. Without a second thought, Veronica flies back to Neptune just in time for her ten year reunion to help Logan out.
It's incredibly fun to have the old gang back together and see where everyone's ended up eight years later. With all the press the film received, it's no surprise that this film is full of cameos, ranging from the return of Max Greenfield's Deputy Leo to none other than James Franco playing himself. The script is just as witty as ever with tons of Veronica's trademark sass. I thought about counting how many easter eggs and inside jokes there were, but quickly found the task too exhausting. If you really want to know, I can guarantee the internet has catalogued them already.
Obviously the fans are here for the characters and on that level the film shines. Fans get to see Veronica face old enemies, reunite with old friends and rekindle romance with the dark and broody Logan, now maybe a little less dark. With so much loving attention given to characters, the central mystery wears a bit thin and a bunch boring. The stakes never feel all that high, although Thomas makes sure to end on a happy but uncertain note, leaving the door open for whatever the future may hold for Veronica.
Overall, this film is incredibly satisfying for fans and perhaps a little confusing and boring for those who haven't seen the series. Either way, I hope we get to see more Veronica Mars in the future, in whatever medium that may be. I'll leave it to others to interpret its success and influence on the idea of crowdfunding, I'm off to watch my digital copy again to make sure I didn't miss any references.