A long time ago, we used to be friends. And then, it ended.
Like many beloved television shows, Veronica Mars was canceled in 2007 after three seasons on UPN/CW due to middling ratings. But despite the loss of the pixie teenage detective, the show’s rabid fans (lovingly called Marshmallows) remained committed to the cause and consistently asked creator Rob Thomas if she would ever return. Seven long years later, and with the help of 91,585 backers on Kickstarter (full disclosure, I am one of them!), she did… and on the big screen.
While just about every major publication, from the Atlantic to the New York Times to Rolling Stone, has reviewed the movie, few have documented what this whole journey was like for those of us who bankrolled the project. So while I will certainly share my thoughts on the film later in this post, here is a bit about what that last year has been like for us Marshmallows.
Though everyone in this world could likely use a few less emails, I loved all of the ones I received from the Mars campaign. Rob and his crew did an extremely good job keeping us informed about all things Veronica. At first, we received videos showing the cast reacting to the Kickstarter milestones and then additional casting announcements, giving us a sense of who would be returning for the high school reunion. Once filming began, emails provided behind-the-scenes photos and talked about what was occurring on set. After that had wrapped, Rob sent emails describing the next stages of the process – from color blocking the film to mixing the sound to testing it in front of an audience.
As the film came together, the focus of the emails turned to its domestic and international distribution, receiving our backers’ prizes, and all of the fan events, from ComicCon in 2013 to SXSW and PaleyFest in 2014. While there have been some hiccups – with fan events selling out before backers could get tickets and issues downloading digital copies from Flixster – we’ve been a part of it all. And for me, that’s made this whole experience all the more fun. I didn’t just help fund the film, I got to see it through from start to finish, and it really was a great ride.
Now, for The Movie.
As a full-blown Marshmallow, I thought the film was pretty amazing. I got all of the inside jokes, chuckled at the tongue-in-check references, and was thoroughly inspired, once again, by Veronica’s daring-do and sharp-tongued retorts. In short, without revealing any major details, it gave the backers everything we were looking for. But now that the high of seeing the film has worn off just a tad, I can also see where it is lacking a bit for newcomers.
The opening voice-over does do a good job at setting up the background story of the series, particularly the first season (which really was the best), but it doesn’t quite explain the importance of Wallace or Mac as Veronica’s two real friends in high school, or Weevil’s complicated boy-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks backstory. And while I find the awkwardness of the reunion completely believable (I didn’t go to my own 10-year reunion, but from what I’ve heard, it was a bit of a clique-ish mess), I found it a little less plausible that Veronica’s sex tape would be played before the entire crowd. I mean, kids can be cruel and some people never grow up, but really?
As for the mystery itself, I liked it and did start to put some clues together as the film went on (go me!), but the final exposition of whodunit reminded me of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, with Veronica connecting dots that had never been given on screen. I haven’t fully read through my PDF copy of the script yet, so maybe there are things that were cut from the final film, but I’m not entirely sure how she makes two and two equal four.
Yet at the end of the day, I’m okay with all of that because though the plot of the film centers around a murder mystery, to me, Veronica Mars was more a reminder that we should be true to ourselves. After all, that’s why many of us first fell in love with the character – she was the queen of the misfits and almost seemed to revel in that position. And while she, like many of us in the years since, tried on a few different hats and waffled between what she wanted and what she felt was expected, in the end, she returned to what seemed right to her.