Sunday 23 March 2014

Veronica Mars: the Film

Okay, I'll put you out of your suspense — and me out of mine — I just saw the Veronica Mars movie and it's good. It's better than good. It's a delight. Everything is in place. The noir setting, the tight plotting, the fine characterisation, the sassy dialogue. I loved it.

The film was only playing in one cinema in London, which at first seemed to me a depressingly bad sign. But it's thriving in that one screen — of course it is, legions of fans of the TV series want to see it. And in North America it seems to have achieved much wider distribution. (My brother lives in a small town in Canada and it's in the movie theatre there.)

It's amazing how easily the film transfers its basic concept — teen detective in high school — to the adult world without losing anything. It turns out that what were originally the main selling points — teen, high school — are actually irrelevant. What matters are the characters, Veronica (Kristen Bell), her dad (Enrico Colantoni), her on-and-off boyfriend Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring).

Rob Thomas, who created the show (inspired by the teenage girls he knew when he was a teacher) has produced and directed the film. He also wrote the story and co-wrote the screenplay, in collaboration with Diane Ruggiero. Ruggiero was one of the mainstays of the original TV series. She wrote the classic 'Betty and Veronica' episode in which Veronica goes undercover at another high school, calling herself Betty and saying she's transferred from Riverdale High (both cheeky references to Archie comics). Working with Thomas, she's delivered a wonderful film.

My only reservation is that it contains some spoilers for people who — like me — haven't seen all three series of the TV show. (I did my best, but my series 2 boxed set only plonked through my letter box while I was out seeing the movie.)

I suspect the film will be a hit. A modest hit, perhaps, but that's all it needs to be. After all, it has a modest budget — I believe about six million dollars — which was raised up front through its Kickstarter campaign. So I'm sure it will not only break even, it will go into profit. Which raises the possibility of sequels

The success of Veronica Mars is heartening not only in itself, but because it suddenly gives hopes of a cinematic afterlife for any TV series with a devoted cult following which is cancelled before its time. This was a genuine example of people-power winning out over the bone headed decisions of executives. The idea of low budget, niche market, crowd-pleasing movies is immensely appealing. Let's hope it's a sign of things to come.

(Image credits: all the pics are from Ace Show Biz.)

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