Thursday, December 02, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World An Unfair Fight

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Hyped by diehard fans of the comics, heralded by critics, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a film that many expected to be a huge box-office hit. Yet upon release Pilgrim was considered a “bomb” by Hollywood analyst as the film barely cracked the top five. Many critics, marketing insiders, and blogger are still scratching their heads wondering where it all went wrong! The answer is actually clear if you really look at the film objectively. Scott Pilgrim, in its current incarnation, is too much of a niche film. It does not have, nor will it ever have the crossover appeal to hit it big with mainstream audiences.

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is a musician in his twenties that has had a rather large “love them and leave them” track record with ladies. Scott is dating Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), a girl who is still in high school. Things between Scott and Knives seemingly go well until Scott meets a delivery girl, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstad), who takes his breath away. Convinced that Ramona is his soul mate, Scott sets out to win her over while trying to figure out how to break it off with Knives. Scott’s life is further complicated when he discovers that he will need to defeat her seven evil exes (including Jason Schwartzman, Brandon Routh, Chris Evans, Keita Saito, and Shota Saito) in order to have a normal life with Ramona.

As I mentioned earlier, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is really made for fans of the comic. Though this does not mean you have to run out and get the books before seeing the movie. I was thoroughly entertained by the film despite having not read the series. Its fast paced energy and hilarious pop culture references made this film one of the more pleasant surprises of the year. However, it must be noted that the kinetic pacing of the film will not appeal to everyone.


The film intentionally plays out like a video game on crack. At times the film is almost too self-aware for its own good. There are jokes in the film that require multiple viewings before you catch all the references. For example, Broken Social Scene’s bittersweet song “Anthem for a Seventeen Year-old Girl” plays in the background while a broken-hearted Knives plots revenge; or when Scott enters his apartment, ala Kramer from Seinfeld, to a brief sound of an audience laugh track.

While the film features a plethora of talented young actors in supporting role (including Anna Kendrick, Kieran Culkin, Alison Pill and Mark Webber), and some inspired cameos (Thomas Jane, Clifton Collins Jr.), the real star of the film is director Edgar Wright. Through Scott Pilgrim Wright succeeds in doing what the Wachowski siblings failed to with Speed Racer, and that is to make a truly engaging live action Manga style film. Pilgrim, at times, is an overload to the senses. There are so many visual treats that you will spend half of the film figuring out how Wright achieved all the different nuances.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a film that will please fans of the source material and, in my case, cause a whole new group of folks to seek out the comics. Sure the film will not appeal to the masses, but that is fine. Those who “get” the film will be treated to an immensely entertaining ride that you will want to take multiple times. 

7 comments:

  1. Awesome movie. Just awesome. Some other generic things to say, because I simply cannot.

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  2. Great review. I enjoyed the fuckin' hell out of it. I'm still disappointed that it didn't do well at the box office. Then again, I shouldn't have been surprised considering that it didn't have a wide audience to appeal to.

    At least it's got a following that will see it continuously.

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  3. @Simon - The film is destined to be a cult classic similar to Rocky Horror Show, Donnie Darko, etc.

    @thevoid99 - I think Michael Cera fatigue also played a small, and I mean very small, role in the poor box-office showing. The trailers made it look like Cera was playing the same loveable loser he has been playing since Juno.

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  4. I'll have to check this one out.

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  5. @Ricky - I think it is a film everyone should see at least once. It is interesting to see how divided people have become over this film. It seems people either love it with a passion or absolutely hate it.

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  6. I had this as one of my Top 10 movies of 2010, also. I had never even heard of the comic, let alone read it, before seeing the movie, though. I just greatly enjoyed the movie and have already watched it a couple more times with friends.

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  7. @Chip – I still have not got around to reading the comics yet. I have seen the boxset in stores but the price is currently more than I am willing to pay.

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