You may or may not remember my review from only a few weeks ago about the Scott Pilgrim books, and that I mildly enjoyed them (in case you don’t remember the review, click here). My introduction to the character was through the trailer, which I had luke warm feelings about. After reading the books, I was a little more intrigued by the film, but still not blown away. However, with the magic of the internet, I saw someone who had taken the audio from the trailer and synced it up with images from the book, and once I saw how similar the dialogue and shots were, I grew more and more excited. I finally caved in, felt like a dork, but went to see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World in its opening weekend.
Why does Scott Pilgrim love Smashing Pumpkins so much? THEY HAVE THE SAME INITIALS! It took me a long time to figure that out, so, you’re welcome.
If you are too lazy to read the review I posted for the books, I will once again explain the plot. For those loyal readers out there who can recite every one of my reviews back to me, feel free to skip down the page a little bit. Scott is a 20-something looking for love, still hurt over his last breakup. He stumbles upon Ramona Flowers, who he then obsessively pines for and dreams about. They hit things off, yet after smooching, Scott learns he must fight Ramona’s 7 Evil Exes if he wishes to be with her. Also, there is some indie rock thrown in there, along with videogame references and general hipster mockery.
Um, excuse, ya know, in the comic, he described Ramona by putting his fingers near his face, not with a drawing. Does Edgar Wright find anything sacred these days!?
That’s the short version of the story at least. Before we go further, I’m just going to go ahead and say that I really liked the film, possibly more than the books. With that in mind, I did think the movie was a little long. It might have just been the pacing of the source material, but I almost expected to walk out of the theater and have it be three hours from when I walked in. Turns out, it’s just barely under two hours. Either way, it felt long, and it had its slow moments, as well as multiple endings. Now that we have the thing I disliked out of the way, let’s move on to the reasons I did enjoy it so much.
Why yes, that is the silhouette of Jason Schwartzman! I am quite good a celebrity silhouette spotting.
We’re pretty much all sick of Michael Cera playing awkward guy who likes a girl, right? Well, the reason he seems to keep getting cast is because he is so damned good at playing that character. He was slightly more empowered in this film, and I wouldn’t have been surprised to have seen his character being played by John Cusack, if it was maybe 15 years ago. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was great as Ramona, the mysteriously aloof, cool girl with a troubled past, similar to Kate Winslet’s character in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Ellen Wong was great as Knives Chau, the young, innocent, mildly crazy former lover of Scott, who balanced annoyingly obsessive with wounded and vulnerable extremely well. All of the supporting cast was great as well, especially Alison Pill as Kim Pine, who I felt brought life to a character who, in the comics, I thought of as mostly a bitch.
Scott Pilgrim is being throttled by the future Captain America! Take THAT, comic book dork loser idiots!
As far as the style of the film, such as the visual gags, sound effects, and references to videogames, I feel the movie pulled it off quite well. The didn’t overuse these story-telling devices, and more importantly, they didn’t under-use them either. A lot of movies with similar gags will use it a few times, then just stop. This film kept it running the whole time, so all of the visual jokes were really entertaining, and the music even more so. Not just the visual gags, but all the audio jokes as well. Actually, all the music in this film was a lot of fun. Because there are a lot of jokes in the book about the band sucking/not sucking, I had a hard time making up my own music for them. In the movie, I feel that the sucking/not sucking joke worked pretty well, whereas most indie bands really suck, but are still fun to listen to, or are sometimes extremely talented, and play kind of crappy music.
In the book, when this scene took place, in black and white, with little cartoons…it was WAY more sexy. Wait, I mean less. Of course I don’t get turned on by cartoon characters! Heh heh…so anyway….uh…boobs?
Ultimately, I feel that the six Scott Pilgrim books being condensed into one film got the message across more easily. Scott Pilgrim fell for an interesting looking girl, ignoring all the candidates around him. Knowing that she was attractive and mysterious, her relationship history was obviously questionable. Scott had to fight, but essentially “defeat” all former lovers, if he stood a chance with Ramona. At the end of the film, not only had he defeated all the Exes, but also had to overcome himself. All the time people might spend worrying about the past of someone they are in a relationship with comes back to how someone thinks about themselves, and once they have conquered their own fears and self doubts, anything is possible, and nothing else matters. I got this far more strongly on film than in the black and white pages of the book, and am nervous other people didn’t take that message away. Even though this is just a fun little film, the message of conquering your own doubts being more important than letting things from the past prevent your happiness, is a heartfelt and thought-provoking one. However, this film could have been better had Will Arnett been involved.
Wolfman Moon Scale