Monday, November 29, 2010
Not sure what to get the comic-book video-game loving guy in your life? Scott Pilgrim vs. The World might be just the thing.
Here’s the thing about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: after three minutes and twelve seconds you will know, beyond the shadow of any doubt, whether you are going to love or hate this movie. Really, I’m not kidding. If at the 3:12 mark, when the title flashes up onto the screen, you aren’t giddy with excitement, my suggestion is that you just hit “eject,” take the DVD back to Blockbuster, and see if you can trade up for something else. But let me also say this…please, oh please, give those first 192 seconds a try. My hope is that you will go on to enjoy what I think is (so far at least) the best movie of 2010.
The film follows Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), an unemployed 22 year old who likes video games and plays bass in a rock band. As the story opens Scott is dating Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), a 17 year old high-schooler, but soon he meets, quite literally, the girl of his dreams: Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). It is only after Scott begins to date Ramona that he discovers that in order to be her boyfriend he must first face and defeat her seven evil exes in single-combat. After that, the plot pretty much takes care of itself.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (hereafter SPvTW) is Edgar Wright’s film adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s critically-acclaimed “Scott Pilgrim” comic-book series. The movie pays homage to its roots, using a wide variety of comic-style storytelling techniques, as well as a host of visual effects reminiscent of the comic genre, from caption boxes that introduce characters and give us their rating (Scott Pilgrim is rated “Awesome”, while his roommate Wallace gets a meagre “7.5”), to drawings of sound waves emanating from Scott’s band “Sex-Bob-Omb.” The visual palette of the film is incredibly rich, and these comic-inspired visual moves help SPvTW to leap off of the screen in even its most mundane scenes. Also, the sound track kicks ass.
In addition to creative visuals and killer music, SPvTW takes a fairly standard romantic- comedy plot (boy meets girl), and spins it out into something that is part action movie, part super-hero movie, part ironic-comedy, part video-game adaptation, part romantic-comedy, and all awesome. Every joke is an inside joke, nearly every sentence drips with irony, and the bits that aren’t ironic are ironically un-ironic. The dialogue is smart and funny, and the characters are almost universally likeable (even the villains are likeable, albeit in a villainous kind of way). My only real criticism of the film is that it makes only marginal use of its setting, the city of Toronto,ON. In the comic-books Ramona calls Toronto one of the “great cities,” but all we really get to see of the city is Casa Loma, and a lot of snow.
In a nutshell, Scott Pilgrim vs The World is the kind of movie that makes me like movies. If you want something totally original, fun, and surprisingly thoughtful (but certainly not too thoughtful), give it a whirl.
Thanks so much to Universal Studios Home Entertainment for sending me a review copy of this movie and thanks so much to Random Colin for reviewing it for me!