Well, this is way overdue and I feel like I should apologize to the internet. Sorry, internet.
This review was commissioned by an anonymous donor known only as the “Funder of Dreams.” Thanks, Funder! (Commissioned post #4 out of 10 so far!)
While I did not fund the famed Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter, there’s no way to talk about this movie without talking about some history, because practically everyone who saw the movie has some kind of history leading into it. Mine was that I watched the Veronica Mars show years ago, sometime after it went off the air, and thought it was a pretty good show but not OMG AMAZEBALLS like most of its fans seemed to think. And then more recently, my favorite blogger Mark Oshiro of www.markwatches.net began blogging it episode by episode, and I picked it up again, intending to watch along with his posting schedule (as I am doing with Supernatural right now) . . . aaaaaand that didn’t work out so well. The show has so much momentum that I zipped through all three seasons in like a month.
But I was amazed at how much more there was to the show than I’d given it credit for during my first watch. I’m assuming that in the intervening years I’ve become so much more aware of and invested in social constructs and societal conventions, and that’s why I could finally appreciate how daring the show was, and how direct it was in tackling issues of racism, classism, sexism, and just about every other ism. And it doesn’t do it in a preachy way; it just weaves the threads into the lives of the characters and the mysteries that the titular Veronica has to solve week in and week out.
So it’s like, some people go into JJ Abrams’s Star Trek movies hoping for morality plays and social commentary because that’s what Star Trek is about (and they are disappointed because JJ Abrams? Philosophy? HA) — but Veronica Mars isn’t really about that and I don’t really expect commentary from it; I mostly just expect to see the world presented to me as it is and being left to make the final judgment call myself. No impassioned monologues delivered by major characters at the movie climax about right and wrong or about how things should be; just people living messy lives and making messy decisions. Of course, there are true villains and evilness and that’s fun to root against, and we have our plucky heroes that we can root for, but no one’s perfect and I don’t have to like everything they do, and most characters fall somewhere in between.
So in that vein, I liked a lot of the choices that the writers made for this movie, such as where they decided to place the characters in this Ten Years Later installment. Funder of Dreams expressed disappointment to me that Wallace, Veronica’s adorable sidekick, became a high school teacher/basketball coach instead of the engineer he’d dreamed of being when we last saw him on the show. We saw how dedicated Wallace was in college to the math and science work he had to do, even though it wasn’t easy for him, and Funder may have a thing for engineers and felt let down to see that Wallace’s work hadn’t paid off long-term in the form of an engineering career. And I’m sure some people were annoyed that Veronica herself went off and became a lawyer instead of a hotshot FBI agent, and I’m absolutely certain no one expected Weevil, the leader of the PCH motorcycle gang, to settle down and have a wife and baby.
But I like that. I like when movies and TV and books acknowledge that life is not linear. Life paths do not follow a set trajectory just because that’s logical or because you want them to. I actually saw the movie, I realize now, with someone who originally thought he’d be an engineer, but life happened and now he feels that his true calling is to be a high school teacher. He is basically Wallace. This stuff really happens. I’m aware that there’s a tacit requirement of fiction that it has to make more sense than reality, but career paths changing is such a normal thing that I don’t believe it really requires an explanation. I mean, if someone made a TV show out of my high school life, it would be unbelievable boring, but aside from that, it would be about a teenage girl who wrote novels. And if there was fanfiction written about my Unbelievably Boring High School Life show (because such things have been known to happen), I’m sure all the fanfic writers would project that grown-up SM would be a novelist or the next JK Rowling, depending on the degree of wish fulfillment the writer subscribed to. None of them would have put me in automotive school, but guess what? That’s where I am right now, and that’s where I want to be. Life is not linear.
And sometimes, as the movie shows, you may get sucked back into that original trajectory, and that may not be “destiny” or “meant to be” or any of those positively connoted things — it may in fact be a regression, the path of least resistance, an addiction; it may not be a good thing. And I liked that too.
And again, nobody in the movie really gave any speeches outlining this and analyzing whether it is right or wrong — it’s just there. For you to notice or not, just like the other things I didn’t notice when I first watched the show.
Leaving aside all this baggage I’ve now projected into the movie, was it a good movie?
I think so. I saw it with someone who’d never seen the show, and aside from my squealing every time a character came onscreen (“MAC! WEEVIL! GIA! LEO! DEPUTY SACKS!”), I don’t think he found anything too confusing, which is a big plus for a movie with so much background info. There were some incredibly suspenseful moments, and because the movie was low budget and couldn’t possibly be “action-packed,” the few incidents of violence were shocking and effective. As far as I could tell, this was a good little thriller. (I don’t know how qualified I am to judge such things, because I tend to watch dramas and comedies and sci fi and family movies and hardly any straight-up thrillers at all, but most of the critics seem to agree with me, as did my movie-going companion.) And I was of course extremely nostalgic and just so happy to see all the familiar faces playing all the familiar characters ( ❤ Vinnie Van Lowe, you scumbag).
It was too bad that they couldn’t get Leighton Meester to reprise her role as Carrie Bishop, because every time they showed pictures of what was supposed to be her character, it was super distracting because THAT’S NOT LEIGHTON MEESTER YOU CAN’T FOOL ME. Looked nothing like her. They could have said she’d had plastic surgery, and given the character, I’d have been totally fine with that, but nada.
I thought it was interesting that they chose to make the villain an unfamiliar character invented for the movie, and not one we already knew (although the movie distractingly pretended that he had gone to high school with them to explain why he was at the reunion), but I suppose that would have been too risky and would have outraged too many people. This is a fanservice movie, after all, and while they may not have gone the Wallace-the-engineer/Veronica-the-FBI-agent wish fulfillment route, there were some lines they still didn’t want to cross.
Such as having Veronica end up with anyone other than Logan. Le sigh.
I came into the movie assuming that they’d wind up together and that I’d be fine with it, because I never thought Piz, Veronica’s other love interest in this movie, was a viable option for Veronica. (At heart, I still liked Veronica’s first boyfriend Duncan best but Teddy Dunn was not going to be in the movie so I accepted that the LoVe ship would be sailing.)
I’m not that tough a sell when it comes to romance, honestly. Show me characters who genuinely connect and care and get along and support and respect each other as equals and I’ll probably be fine with whoever you throw together.
And the movie gives us that with Piz but not with Logan. We see that Piz and Veronica have a well-functioning relationship of equals and that Piz no longer that pathetic puppy dog just following Veronica around. Good for him! They work really well together in the movie! But it is not to be, alas. And we’re left to assume all of that important stuff with Logan; the movie doesn’t give us enough Veronica/Logan talky time for them to hash things out and deal with their issues — it shows us Logan in his Air Force uniform, Logan being broody, Logan being violent, Logan being heroic . . . but none of that actually addresses the central issues of the Veronica/Logan relationship, such as poor communication, distrust, and oh yeah, ten YEARS without speaking to each other. But he means well and they smooch by the end so it’s all good. Not.
On the other hand, there’s all sorts of class warfare and douchey police abuse and Logan being angsty and Keith Mars being the best dad ever and Mac being the only one to have a linear life where she’s now a hotshot software developer, and that’s pretty yummy.
So overall, I think enjoyment of this movie depended largely on expectations. I don’t think critics expected much from it and were pleasantly surprised. I think I expected certain things from it, as outlined above, and for the most part my expectations were met, so I was happy. I think that if people expected it to be the best movie of the year, the decade, the century, they were probably disappointed, and that if they disliked Logan, they were probably disappointed, and if they expected linear progression of the characters and of some of the plot loose ends left by the show, they were probably disappointed, and I can’t argue with that.
But I think it was a solid little movie, and if by some miracle there’s a sequel, I’d totally go see it.
Agree? Disagree? Want more reviews like this one? Consider donating and commissioning more, via my GoFundMe campaign — http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive — and thanks for reading! And you can keep up with me on Twitter @FloatingSpirals and never miss a post 🙂
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