Veronica Mars, the Queen of Sass

Veronica Mars

I was a huge Veronica Mars tragic first time round. It was so refreshing to have a television series that portrayed a female protagonist who used her wits to get what she wanted rather than prettiness (and yes, I know Kristen Bell is gorgeous but this is played down in the series and her background tells against her so although technically she looks like a cheerleader, she is certainly not one of the successful ‘it’ girls at school). And that the show  did not shy away from unpleasant storylines and that it proved that sometimes life is unfair, that the bad guys do sometimes win and that we do not live through a procession of fluffy endings. So imagine my excitement when I heard that there was going to be a film, even if it was being funded in a less than orthodox way; as Warner Bros had canned the television series and refused to take up the film option, Kristen Bell and the writer Rob Thomas launched a fundraising campaign through Kickstarter. They reached their $2m goal in less than ten hours and all up, raised more than $5.7m through this Kickstarter initiative. So I think we can safely say that I am not the only Veronica Mars fan out there!

Does the Veronica Mars film (2014) live up to the hype? I have to say, I think it works pretty well. All the characters have convincingly moved onto post-college world (unlike other teen series I could mention, ahem ‘Gossip Girl’) but I do feel that it is almost too seamlessly tied in with the original series. Yes, it is a film based on a television series and nowadays what constitutes a film, what constitutes a television series, is consistently blurred what with companies such as HBO producing stunning high-quality series with the production values of films, writers/producers/actors such as Lena Dunham finding fame online before being picked up by a network. And of course many people aren’t even watching mainstream television, but ‘binge watching through streaming or boxed sets. But really, apart from the overly obvious references to Instagram, YouTube and Facebook and the fact that the characters have all left school and are living in ‘the real world’, it could just another episode from the original series from 2004-2007.

And I love a man in uniform (who doesnt?!) but really? Logan? A naval officer? I am convinced they only added that plot line so that Veronica could admire him in uniform and make ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ reference. The plot is eyebrow-raisingly obvious in the film; and another quibble, call me naïve but could an entire town really be THAT corrupt? I know that sheriffs are elected to office and that they have a lot of local power but honestly; for the town to be corrupt to a level that a policeman is killed and nothing is done about it, seems a little drastic. But that’s really not what Veronica Mars is about. It’s about a sassy, moral, loyal young woman who quite frankly kicks arse and takes names in everything she does. And she does that in spades in this film. Veronica always ‘gets her man’ both professionally and personally but has to experience a lot of unpleasantness and difficulties along the way. And she does it with such wit. The cracking one-liners are out in full force in this film and the sarcastic exchanges with her father spot on.

One for the fans. In the film, having just seen on the news that famous Bonnie DeVille, the popstar (better known to Veronica as Carrie Bishop, a former schoolmate) has been found dead in suspicious circumstances and that Logan is suspected of the murder, Veronica pauses at a newsstand to pick up a paper; while she is looking at the paper, we hear (but don’t see) a busker playing ‘We Used to be Friends’ by The Dandy Warhols, the original Veronica Mars theme song.

So I would say to the fans of VM – watch it. It’s a walk down memory lane and it includes many of the original characters so is fun to see what they are all up to seven to ten years on. And to those who have never heard of Veronica Mars or watched the show, shame on you!! But don’t start with the film, go back and watch the original three seasons first. It’s perfect binge television!

It is a truth universally acknowledged…that there can never be too many Austen adaptations


This year was the bicentennial of the publication of Pride & Prejudice and its hero(ine)s still speak as much to women (and men) now as they did then. Love him or hate him, two hundred years on, Mr Darcy is here to stay. As are screen and book interpretations and adaptations of Pride & Prejudice, of which the latest to grace the silver screen is Austenland, possibly the most Meta of interpretations yet (and based on the novel by Shannon Hale).

Keri Russell plays Jane, a modern American woman who has been unlucky in love. Obsessed with Jane Austen’s novels and holding out who she sees as the perfect man (Mr Darcy of course), Jane is struggling to experience real romance in her life as no man ever measures up to her fantasy man. Literally; Jane has a lifesize cardboard cut-out of Colin Firth/Mr Darcy in her regency-decorated apartment (there is a LOT of chintz) and the only man we see visit her flat doesn’t come close to Darcy’s stature!

Eventually in desperation Jane decides to sink her life savings into ‘the romantic experience of a lifetime’ at Austenland in England, a regency themed house party that guarantees the Mr Darcy experience. Unfortunately when she arrives Jane finds out that she has only managed to afford the ‘copper package’, rather than the other two female guests (enthusiastically and hilariously played by Jennifer Coolidge and Georgia King) who are experiencing the ‘platinum package’; this means that Jane is treated as the poor relation of the house party, placed in a plain brown dress with her hair undressed, and introduced to the house party guests as ‘an orphan with no money to her name and taken in as a charitable act’ by the snobbish lady of the house, played superbly by Jane Seymour. As a result, all of the gentlemen with their ten thousand a year pay her no attention at all, in keeping with the mores of the time. And so Jane’s time passes. However, Mr Nobly acts almost nicely towards Jane sometime and there is always the groundsman, Martin, played convincingly by Bret McKenzie who seems very interested in Jane. But who is acting and who is real? Is anything at Austenland real (I am still not sure of the significance of the orange-faced footmen, can anyone enlighten me?!)?

What I enjoyed most about this film was the number of layers in it; you’re the audience watching a film in which actors play actors, playing regency characters. About two-thirds way through the film, the regency characters put on a play, thereby adding another layer. All good fun and some of the best scenes are when Kerri Russell’s character, Jane, steps back from the performance and asks herself what she really wants. Is all romance just a game? Can she really find true love while playing a part?

Does Jane find her Mr Darcy? That would be telling, but what I can say is that you will be thoroughly entertained finding out.