The ‘Veronica Mars’ Movie: Ramblings from a Kickstarting Marshmallow

Posted in Movies, TV on March 19th, 2014 by Nick

vmarsA long time ago, we used to be friends with the sassiest teen sleuth since Nancy Drew, and her name was Veronica Mars. The latest cult-favorite returning from the dead (think: Firefly/Serenity), the original series ran on UPN/The CW from 2004-2007. After three seasons, a heap of murders, a horrifying bus crash and some major network meddling, the doors of Mars Investigations closed for good.

Until now.

If you haven’t been living under a rock (or locked inside a closet like Meg’s sister), then surely you’ve heard about a wee little Kickstarter campaign that raised $5.7 million dollars to get Veronica back in action. Thanks to 91,585 die-hard fans (hey, I’m one of ‘em!), creator Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell got to write and produce a full-length feature film following the events of the TV series.

Veronica has truly left her stamp on the industry. Since then, others like Zach Braff and Spike Lee took to Kickstarter to raise funds for their next projects. The Internet is abuzz, wondering if the Veronica Mars movie is changing the rules for the future. If the movie is profitable, will Hollywood continue reaching out to the fans in order to fund smaller, cultier films for niche audiences? And should fans even have to keep ponying up the goods?

I won’t dive into the nitty-gritty here. Rather, I’d like to post my thoughts about the movie in an informal, non-review format. Let’s ramble:

Minor SPOILERS to follow. Don’t read on unless you’ve seen the movie!

It’s surreal to be sitting here discussing a Veronica Mars movie with you. Since the beginning of the Kickstarter campaign, I’ve been giddy at the prospects of seeing Kristen Bell and the rest of the cast back in action at their former stomping ground of Neptune, California. Seeing as they were working with their fans’ hard-earned money, I’ll start by saying this: Team Mars DELIVERED. So, thank you Rob Thomas, Kristen and the rest of the cast. Fans of the show see your passion for the series and it fuels our own.

A brief summary: We find Veronica living in New York City with Piz. She’s finished law school and is shopping around to find a new job and continue her new life. Logan calls. He’s being charged with murdering his pop-star girlfriend, Bonnie Deville, and surprise! He needs Veronica’s help. She agrees to fly home just to help him choose the right lawyer and nothing more, giving Veronica time to reunite with her pals Mac and Wallace, and get conned into attending the gang’s 10 year high school reunion.

Some may think that the 10 year reunion thing was a little contrived, but as Thomas stated, the film needed a reason to bring back all of the characters we’ve loved (and hated) in the past. I think the reunion served that purpose without sucking up too much of the film’s run-time. I loved seeing minor characters like Corny and Principal Clemmons, and watching Veronica finally knock the shit out of Madison Sinclair was worth every single penny that I handed over to them.

Another highlight was Ken Marino, back as the slimy private dickVeronica-Mars-Movie-Kristen-Bell-Percy-Daggs-III-Tina-Majorino Vinnie Van Lowe, who was selling illegal footage of celebrities to whoever would pay the highest price. The film perfectly weaves in these older characters in ways that made sense to the story and made sense to our yearnings for nostalgia. Well done!

Overall, the story totally worked. Sure, it could feel like an overblown episode at times, but a murder equals some pretty high stakes, and once we found out that other characters were wrapped up in it (Gia Goodman! I absolutely love Krysten Ritter.), the story unfolded nicely, clues, scumbags, witty one-liners, and all. I was trying to keep my expectations in check while watching, but caught myself a couple of times thinking, “Wow! They are doing a fantastic job!” I really think any former fan will be beyond pleased. Will the movie appeal to fresh newbies just checking in? I’m not sure. But if a year full of intense media coverage, cast interviews, crazy Internet buzz, and more didn’t convince you to stop by Neptune already, well, I guess I don’t really care. It’s your complete and utter loss.

Logan-and-Veronica-in-the-Veronica-Mars-MovieThings that didn’t really make sense for me: I was hoping for a brief Lily Kane cameo during the “Lost classmates” reel at the reunion. Sure, it could’ve been a little cheesy, but I wonder why Thomas opted against that. Also, the Celeste Kane cameo didn’t really have any traction. She shoots Weevil because she’s scared and then that’s it? I was completely shocked to see her and elated about it, but by film’s end I was wondering why they even bothered (Token Kane?).

I also could have gone for a longer final chase scene. After Veronica figures out who the killer is, she escapes danger rather quickly. It was very unlike the Season 1 final episode where she gets locked inside a refrigerator and set on fire. That was an intense finale full of struggle and emotion. Our heroine takes down this person pretty easily (maybe because she has experience now?), and I’m left wondering if that was just to save some time.

After everything is said and done, I can talk about this movie for days and days – and I’ve only seen it one time so far! From the cameos (the best ones are from non-Mars actors, but I won’t ruin those surprises here) and witty dialogue, to the relationships between characters and all that action (car crashes! injured loved ones! bitchslaps!), I couldn’t be any happier with how it all turned out.

Fingers crossed for a sequel, Marshmallows.

Grade: A….+  A++ Like, “I got a 4.3 GPA in college, A+”

If you’re still hungry for more, check out Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line. The story continues where the movie leaves off, and is written by Thomas and Jennifer Graham.  The book hits stores on March 25 and is the first in an upcoming series of stories.

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Now Streaming: ‘The Lifeguard’ (Starring Kristen Bell, Martin Starr and David Lambert)

Posted in Movies on February 19th, 2014 by Nick

145748_WMv8v5Life is hard and oftentimes can suck beyond belief. Is this not one of the crucial lessons we learn as we grow up? Even if we make all the “right” decisions that we think will lead us toward happiness, it’s never as easy to achieve as one may think during the blissful ignorance of our youths. So is the case for The Lifeguard’s Leigh London (Kristen Bell), a New York City reporter who’s feeling unfulfilled and quits her job to move back home and have a summer of soul searching and screwing up.

As Leigh gets her old job back as a lifeguard at a pool, she reconnects with her parents and friends (the always welcome Martin Starr shows up as her high school pal, Todd) and meets Jason (David Lambert), a 16-year-old who’s seemingly just as lost as she is. They grow together in their confusion as two people at a crossroads in their respective lives, attempting to help each other figure it all out. But once their closeness becomes sexual, it becomes dangerous, disrupting the lives of all those around them and creating further personal turmoil for them. When the secret eventually does get out, the heat is on for Leigh to pull her shit together (you know….because he’s jailbait!)

Although the movie works overtime to avoid the usual clichés, it does fall victim occasionally. In true indie-drama form, it can also be slow at times; however, it speaks to the lives of today’s twenty-somethings and the inevitable, scary post-college Quarter Life Crisis. Seeing this successful New Yorker already need a time out before she even hits 30 is oddly comforting in a way. Was that a part of writer/director Liz W. Garcia’s intention? Maybe. It also goes to show how much one can learn from the most unexpected of places, as Leigh discovers through Jason.

Despite the film’s flaws, Bell is a dramatic pro and continuously draws our attention back to Leigh’s bumpy road (excluding Veronica Mars, this is one of my favorite performances of Bell’s). During her summer of sulking, Leigh is self-centered and reckless – damaged even – but never unfeeling. What The Lifeguard goes on to show is that regardless of intention and plans, happiness is still an ideal that we all continue to chase and probably will continue to chase for a large part of our lives. It’s OK for anyone, of any age, to make mistakes and lose her way, but the important part is how we find our way back.

Grade: B

You can currently check out The Lifeguard on Netflix Instant.

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Comic-Con First Look: The Veronica Mars Movie

Posted in Movies, TV on July 23rd, 2013 by Nick

veronica-mars-comic-conIf you are alive and have some sort of beating pulse, you know that Comic-Con was last weekend. Guesstimating by said beating pulse, I’m going out on a limb and assuming that you’ve heard of the Veronica Mars kickstarter that raised $5.7 million to get the blonde sleuth back in action on the big screen. Yea? Cool.

The Veronica Mars creator and cast showed up to Comic-Con last Friday to hand deliver this sneak peak video of the movie fans made possible. The clip shows all your old favorites, including Mac (Tina Majorino) with a new-do, Wallace (Percy Daggs III), Weevil (Francis Capra), and, of course, Veronica’s other half, Logan (Jason Dohring).

“I can tell you that it sort of has — and this is a weird reference — a ‘Godfather III’ vibe to it,” said creator Rob Thomas at the panel. “Part of the movie is her getting pulled back into this life that she thought she’d left behind. I’m a fan of the show, I kind of know what the pleasure zones are for ‘Veronica Mars’ viewers, and I wrote to those.”

Thomas said the movie will come out early in 2014 and also announced that he signed a book deal for two new Veronica Mars books, the first of which will come out shortly after the movie. “It picks up where the movie left off. For years, I wanted to get the Veronica Mars books done as young adult novels, but we sold them as adult novels. So it’s Veronica at 28.” Does he want to do more movies? “Oh, yes I do! I want to be a Bond franchise. I hope we make a ton of money with this one and get to do it via the normal channels. Next time, maybe the studio will just give us the money.”

Here’s the video that debuted at the Con. Holler, Jamie Lee Curtis!

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‘Veronica Mars’ Movie News: It’s happening…if fans give it a Kickstart

Posted in Check It Out!, TV on March 13th, 2013 by Nick

CAPRA  DOHRINGLook out, Neptune: Veronica Mars is coming back to town. Hopefully.

Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas announced today that a Veronica Mars movie is in the works and has been in the works for over a year! But, the project is a Kickstarter one, and it needs our help.

Our favorite blonde sleuth could be on the big screen as early as Spring 2014, but according to Thomas and Bell, they need $2 million in 30 days in order to make it happen. If the money comes through, Mars Investigations is back in business and they shoot this summer. Not only does the $2 million in donations help the cause, but it also shows Warner Bros. (who still owns the rights to VMars) that fans care enough to step up, get involved and demand more Veronica. Warner has agreed to pick up the tab for marketing, promotion and distribution, should the Kickstarter campaign be a success (It’s looking good kids – a mere 2.5 hours later and we’ve raised $519,628!)

Thomas and his team hope to release the movie in the first quarter of 2014 for a limited-time theatrical run, followed by VOD, iTunes and other digital platforms.

Rewards packages on Kickstarter start as low as $10 (updates during production and a copy of the script on the day of release) and go as high as $10,000 (a part in the movie), with all sorts of goodies in between, including physical DVDs, Bluray/DVD combos, voicemail messages from Bell and the rest of the cast, and even a set visit and lunch with the cast. So donate now, dammit!

Follow Bell and Thomas on Twitter and check out the Veronica Mars Facebook page for all the glorious updates. I can also be found on Twitter and Facebook, squealing in delight and skipping like a school boy. Or something like that.

Lets do this.

*Edit* The Kickstarter page is now up to $763,752 as of 2 p.m. EST!

VMars

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Now On Blu-ray: ‘Hit & Run’

Posted in Movies on February 20th, 2013 by Nick

Hit and Run Trio Poster (1)Despite a semi-quiet release and meager 48% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I must admit: last year’s Hit & Run was highly entertaining. Dax Shepard (yeah, yeah…I know) deserves some cred for wearing the hat of writer, co-director and star, and alongside his fellow cast members, baby mama Kristen Bell, Bradley Cooper and Tom Arnold, the movie flows well and has plenty of laughs along the way.

Shepard plays Charlie Bronson, a former getaway driver now in the witness protection program after testifying against some of his partners-in-crime. When his girlfriend Annie gets an interview for an opportunity in L.A., Charlie decides to drive her there despite what his supervising U.S. Marshall (Arnold) has to say. Thanks to the douchebaggery of Annie’s ex-boyfriend Gil, Alexander Dmitri (Cooper), one the guys Charlie put away, is soon hot on their trail. Then the funny happens.

The movie has a great mix of comedy and action with a dash of drama thrown in as well. The chase scenes are surprisingly decent and the set-up and flow make you feel attached enough to the characters by film’s end. The cast is really the shining light here. Cooper, dreadlocked and gangster’ed up, is hilarious as the white wannabe Alex, and Arnold plays a perfect bumbling watchdog. And when is Kristen Bell not absolutely delightful? The answer is never.

The guest stars and cameos are aplenty – Kristin Chenoweth, Ryan Hansen, Joy Bryant (Parenthood shoutout!), David Koechner, Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes all pop in and out throughout all the chasing, and it’s enjoyable to see all of the likable, familiar faces. The film didn’t need them, but hey, bonus.

Considering that Shepard got his start out with Ashton Kutcher on Punk’d, liking the former prankster has been a tough pill for me to swallow (not even mentioning the list of stinkers he has on his resume). But hey, props are due. Shepard can definitely handle drama, as evidenced week after week on NBC’s Parenthood. His stint in the incredible familial drama has really transformed him into an actor as opposed to just a here-and-there support guy. Having said that, with Hit & Run under his belt it seems he’s got some life in him after all. If you like any of these actors, are a Parenthood fan, or dig the general premise, Hit & Run will satisfy and be worthy of a Netflix or Red Box rental.

Did I mention Kristen Bell is in it? No brainer, people.

Grade: B 

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I love Kristen Bell and Elmo with All of My Grinch-sized Heart

Posted in Check It Out!, Lazy Time on February 1st, 2012 by Nick

If it was up to me, Kristen Bell, Elmo and myself would have a Three’s Company- style sitcom where we all lived together, skipping, dancing and holding hands whenever we saw fit. We’d probably throw parties too, but they’d have to be rather PG – we do have a roommate from Sesame Street, after all.

After watching these two videos over the last few days, I have quickly become (even more) obsessed with Señorita Bell. And Elmo? Well, he totally proved he can hang, too.

Watch, listen, love:

On this day, my heart grew three sizes.

Thanks to Anna from Stop & Smell the Roses, and Michelle and Co. for injecting these videos into my life.

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'Scream 4' Teaser (and Full!) Trailer

Posted in Horror, things I like that you should like too on October 19th, 2010 by Nick

This is the bajillionth post about Scream 4 in the last few weeks and I warn you, gentle readers:  It’s only going to get worse as we get closer to April 15th, 2011.

This teaser trailer debuted at the Scream Awards and has leaked on the Interweb. Check it!

ComingSoon.net has a 30-second-longer offering with actual spoken lines and extended footage.

Why isn’t it APRIL now!?

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'Scream' is the best horror series known to MAN

Posted in Check It Out!, Horror on September 27th, 2010 by Nick

Scream 4 is filming. Horror fans around the world, rejoice!

OK…so maybe I’m overhyping this messiah to the genre film a little too much, but c’mon! The Cox-Arquettes are in, as is Neve Campbell. Wes Craven is back in action, with a screenplay from original writer Kevin Williamson. That’s at least a good start, right?

The fourth Scream film is also boasting a fresh, young cast including Hayden Panetitereirereree (Save the Cheerleader!), Rory Culkin, and Emma Roberts. Plus, the movie will have appearances by Kristen Bell, Anna Paquin (Sook-eh!), and Alison Brie.

EW posted this First Look at Scream 4:

One of my biggest fears about this movie is that they are going to “Laurie Strode” Sidney, Gail, and/or Dewey. I can accept that one of them is bound to die (tear, sadface), but if all three bite it, I’m not so sure how I’ll be able to LIVEEEE.  And in this photo, Gail looks like she’s in trouble!

My mind is already reeling! Maybe Sid has gone crazy and is the killer! Maybe a copycat wants to “reboot the series”! Maybe Deputy Dewey is trying to salvage Gail’s slightly weathered (HA! Get it?) career?

The possibilities are endless. April 15th, 2011 can’t come quickly enough.

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Kristen Bell Makes Everything Better – Yeasayer's "Madder Red" Video

Posted in Music on September 2nd, 2010 by Nick

FACT: Kristen Bell makes everything better.

Check her out in the new Yeasayer video, as she loves and mourns her….little pet…alien? Interesting. Even among the madness and silly antics, Bell still acts her face off, and mine.

…she’s amazing.

After the video, leave a comment about how you think Kristen Bell got so amazingly awesome.

“Madder Red” is from the album “Odd Blood”.  I highly recommend it.

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'Veronica Mars' Movie: Sooner rather than later?

Posted in Check It Out!, TV on January 21st, 2009 by Nick

Rob Thomas, creator and show runner for “Veronica Mars,” originally stated that plans for a VMars movie were simply thoughts in his own head. Kristen Bell didn’t oppose to it; neither did Enrico Colantoni.

Looks like that’s all changed.

With ABC reducing its order of “Cupid” from 13 episodes to 8, Thomas has some time on his hands. Thomas told If Magazine: “That means I have time to write the “Veronica Mars” movie. But my writing the movie is half the battle. Someone else has to pay for it. Joel Silver does have a certain pile of money. He called on me saying, ‘Can we do this now?’ Kristen wants to do it, Joel wants to do it, and I want to do it. For me, that’s the next project.”

Initially, Thomas proposed a 4th season that would flash-forward, putting Veronica as a newbie in the FBI. Thomas stated that the FBI storyline will most likely be scrapped and that the movie might take place a few days before Veronica’s graduation from Hearst College instead.

Who else is ready to have Veronica and Keith back in action? And maybe even on the big screen!

Score.

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