Pop-Ed: Veronica Mars: The Movie – The Pros and Cons

marla pachter and lauren stern get their Mars on…

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It sent the Twittersphere into a tizzy.

Last week, a Kickstarter campaign was launched to help fund a potential film version of the cult television series Veronica Mars. The campaign, which called on fans to donate money to help fund the project, was spearheaded and championed by the show’s creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell. The campaign shattered all Kickstarter records raising $3.6 million in just five days.

So we took it to two of Pop-Break’s biggest Mars-ians, Marla Pachter and Lauren Stern and posed this question — is a Veronica Mars, the movie, a good idea or a bad idea? The ladies looked at different aspects of why the film should and shouldn’t be made, the impact of the Kickstarter campaign and more.

The Pro’s of the Veronica Mars Movie — Marla Pachter

Because we deserve answers. Seriously.

Look if you’re a fan of the show, you’ve been through the heartbreak. Remember way back when, Season One, when Rob Thomas thought it was over? We all thought it was over, actually. There was a strong indication it would be cancelled. But due to its amazing culty fan base, somehow UPN decided to give it another season. And it was magical. But unfortunately, let’s not forget that Rob Thomas thought it would be ending. So he took his incredible story, his smarmy noir mystery, and he wrapped it up nicely. The season one finale is arguably the best episode of the show. It was smart, suspenseful, kept you on the edge of your fucking seat, and answered basically every question we had.

Show creator Rob Thomas (left) with Kristen Bell (right).
Show creator Rob Thomas (left) with Kristen Bell (right).

The show was always in jeopardy, and The CW was absolutely the wrong place for it. So it honestly wasn’t that surprising when it got the axe. Why would a brand new network trying to find its footing, and leaning towards a mainstream, teenage demographic, want to keep a smart show about a budding young woman with a cult fan base? It just didn’t fit.

Which would have been fine, if Rob Thomas had anticipated the cancellation the way he anticipated it in Season One, and wrapped it up nicely for us. But that’s not what we got, is it? Season Three ended with some monumental, devastating, and permanent cliff hangers. I couldn’t even believe it when I finished the episode: That’s it? That’s how it ends? It felt so … wishy washy. They didn’t wrap up anything. And now, I want — no, I need to know what happens. I am absolutely giddy that I will, one day in the not-so-distant future be able to watch the Season Three finale of my beloved Veronica Mars and think, “Wow. What a great way to end a season. Now time to watch the movie!”

We Get to See Kristen Bell be Awesome Again

Kristen Bell has been one of my favorite actresses for some time. Having already been in love with her from Veronica Mars, I was astounded by her drastically different performance when I first saw the movie Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical. I was completely blown away. To put it bluntly, I was all, “Holy fuck. This chick can ACT.” And because I was so obsessed with her and thought she was so fucking talented, I used to go see everything she was in blindly.

Veronica Mars Kristen Bell

But KBell has reached a point in her career where I can no longer go blindly. That is to say, she makes some really shitty movies. And it just frustrates me to see them because not only are they shitty, but her talents are being wasted. I’m excited to see KBell in all her VMars glory again, a real actress instead of a run-of-the-mill RomCom pretty face. Maybe it will even revive her career again (not that it’s remotely dead — it’s just dead in my eyes) and give her the opportunity to be offered some more meaty roles that I know she’s more than capable of playing.

I feel similarly about Tina Majorino, Ryan Hansen, and Jason Dohring. While I love all the actors from Veronica Mars, these particular ones keep getting roles that just aren’t up to their level.

Piz!

I know a lot of people might not agree with me on this one. But I can’t help it. I just love me some Stosh Piznarski. How could you not love a sexy, adorable, sweet, and charming radio guy with the name Stosh Piznarski? HOW? He is everything Logan isn’t. And don’t get me wrong, I love Logan, I think he and Veronica belong together, but he needs to grow up. You know it, I know it, he knows it. Piz is the perfect “for now” guy for Veronica, and he ain’t too bad to look at, either.

Before he was on Veronica Mars, I was already a big fan of Chris Lowell’s from another failed TV show he did, Life as We Know It. And I can’t enjoy him now because I think Private Practice is boring and terrible and not even a real spinoff (She might have the same name, but Kate Walsh plays a different character than she did on Grey’s Anatomy whether they want to admit that or not). But probably the real reason I think Chris Lowell is so great, is this video here:

Really. How could you not want that chemistry back? I was so obsessed with this video, I watched it so many times when it was first made, that I still sometimes quote it in conversation and nobody knows what I’m talking about.

So I guess what I’m really trying to say, is I’m excited Piz will most likely be a part of the movie (no involvement except Kristen’s is confirmed at this point, just a matter of scheduling and commitments according to Rob Thomas), because maybe we’ll get more videos like that one.

It’s a Revolution

I don’t know about you, but I definitely didn’t expect the response to the Veronica Mars Kickstarter that it got. I expected them to raise the money, definitely. But not in less than one day, and not with the insane loyalty it received. The morning that the Kickstarter first appeared, I was talking to a friend about how I thought they should make some of the smaller Pledge values have some cooler prizes associated with them, because I thought they would raise more money that way. She agreed. Turns out I was DEAD wrong. See, I felt that way because I’m poor and frugal, and I wanted more bang for my buck. In reality, for the $35 that I shouldn’t have spent but did, I got a lot of cool stuff. And I get to say I contributed to a movie I’m over the moon about being made. But giving out more perks would have cost them more money that they need to be putting towards the movie. And obviously, considering the fact that they’re pretty close to raising double their original $2 million goal (As of Sunday afternoon, $3.5 million) in just five days, they need not have given out more stuff to make their dream happen.

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Being a fan of something can be a powerful emotion. It means different things to different people, but there’s a reason shows like Veronica Mars have what they call a cult following. Because it’s not the kind of show you watch in the background while you’re doing the dishes. It’s the kind of show you connect with. There are other shows out there with similar cult followings, that I definitely think this could open up a lot of possibilities for. Veronica Mars, in comparison to some other things (ahem, Firefly) is relatively cheap to make, so Rob Thomas was able to start off with a relatively small monetary goal (I’m just saying, for a movie, $2 million does not sound like a lot.) and just kind of hope he made more than that so he could make an even cooler movie.

So let’s remind ourselves, this is just a stepping stone. A lot of those cancelled TV shows we love that we hope will get funded would cost a lot more to make than VMars does. But it’s an awesome stepping stone that really shows the world that it is possible. And we now know that with enough fan power, anything can happen.

We know Rob Thomas still has it in him.

Party Down. QED.

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The Con’s of the Veronica Mars Movie — Lauren Stern

Using Kickstarter to fund the Veronica Mars movie was obviously a very successful move for producer Rob Thomas and actress Kristen Bell, but was it the right one? Well if you’re a Veronica Mars fan, you’re nodding your head yes. But take your excitement away and really think about this: Was a Veronica Mars movie worth a multitude of problems that have the power to cause some serious damages to a multitude of parties?

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The answer? Probably not. Let’s take a look as to who will be affected and why, shall we?

Damages in the Film Industry

The idea of independent funding has been rampant amongst the music industry for years. Even prior to Kickstarter’s launch in 2009, many musicians were avid about leaving their prospective record companies due to unfavorable old school ideologies and funding practices. The idea of independence, in addition to crowd funding platforms like Kickstarter, have caused the music industry to be a rampant, dying breed, one that could very well be obsolete years from now. And thanks to this project, we could very well see this happen to the film industry too.

I know all of this sounds like a huge over exaggeration, but really think about it. By creating this Kickstarter project, Warner Bros. lost all of its power to make executive decisions other than permission to use the material. They have nothing to lose here money-wise, which may seem like a great thing to them now, but if this keeps happening, no one is going to come and pitch them film ideas. Every director is going to go to Kickstarter and ask fans for money for their ideas and depending on the context, it can happen. There will be no financial control to interrupt the creative process and no help from people who have been in this business for years. It will be mostly independently run, which will cause some serious economic damages that the film industry may never recover from.

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The Rewards

A big lesson we all learned in kindergarten was “Don’t make promises you can’t keep” which unfortunately is a huge part the problem here. According to S.T. VanAirsdale’s blog post about the movie project, Thomas now owes no fewer than 34,763 limited edition t-shirts, 17, 919 DVDs of the finished film (plus Blue-Ray copies for the 7,222 backers who have pledged $100+), 8,092 Veronica Mars movie posters (2,885 of these must be signed by the film’s cast), and 965 copies of the Veronica Mars series on DVD. Not to mention, the five theaters that have to be rented out for a private screening of the show for those who backed the movie with $5,000. All of these prizes with the promised deadline of February/March 2014.

Now I’m sure since Mr. Vanairsdale did the math for us, the numbers have gone up, but regardless if they did or not this is going to be one crazy clusterfuck for the organizers of the project. And because this is clearly a lot of work, there’s a good chance that it’s not going to get done in time.

Kickstarter … ruined

Sad, but true, this project ruins everything Kickstarter stands for. Since it was created in 2009, independent artists were using the platform to raise funds from their fans with promises they can easily follow through on. But the Veronica Mars project essentially puts Kickstarter on the mainstream, taking away how the site has been beneficial for starving artists.

Now essentially anyone, including big corporations can take advantage of fans. They can use the platform to gather funds without the slightest intention of giving back a reward. Kickstarter can become an untrustworthy platform; garnering similar problems that other funding sites like Ebay and Craiglist face every day. We can even see the use and privacy policies change thanks to the project’s mainstream success.

Like Marla, I was a huge fan of Veronica Mars. I watched the show when it was on the air and even now whenever episodes replay on the SOAP channel. But I’m not letting my excitement for the movie undermine the potential problems that our culture will inevitably face because of this.

CAPRA  DOHRING

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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