Saturday, August 14, 2010

Yet Another Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

"Remind me why I'm interested in you?" "My pink hair."
Some movies are what I like to call “lukewarm:” a movie that just can’t decide what it is. Whether it’s a serious-but-silly comedy, or an action flick with almost political overtones, this is a movie that would be better off picking one thing or the other and sticking with it. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, whatever its flaws, is not lukewarm. From the get-go, this movie only tries to do one thing, entertain, and it does that one thing excellently. From over-the-top fight scenes, to wacky comic-book-style visuals, to a host of amusing characters, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World keeps you laughing all the way through.

Unfortunately, the film’s single-minded focus on entertainment has a few casualties, such as well-developed characters, or a really meaningful plot. The movie’s few weaknesses come when you are expecting something roughly approaching an interesting character development, and instead just get more laughs. The best instance of this is after the final battle, when Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) has to face Nega-Scott, which is the evil version of himself. The movie has indeed started to set us up to realize that perhaps Scott isn’t as goody-two-shoes as Michael Cera looks, but unfortunately Nega-Scott turns out to be just as nice as Scott, and the two have a pleasant chat. Amusing as this reversal is, it is also rather disappointing, and indeed the entire movie is like this as soon as you start to think about it.

Real romantic interest: Mary Elizabeth Winstead's hair.
The main characters tend to disappoint, unless you really love Michael Cera. Cera’s Scott is one of the least disappointing characters, but it is unavoidable that Scott is just Michael Cera’s standard lovable hipster character, as seen in Juno, Superbad, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, etc. Nonetheless, Scott does manage to be amusing with his continuous quest for love and self-respect, and the tendency for his every emotion or self-discovery to be immediately physically created, whether with a pixelated extra life, or a flaming sword. On the other hand, the romantic interest Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is never anything more than eye candy, leading you to entirely agree with Scott’s irritation at being forced to duel her seven evil exes. Thankfully, the plot, and the secondary characters, don’t actually care about the development (or lack thereof) of the main characters. The ludicrously large secondary cast, including phenomenal performances by Anna Kendrick as Scott’s snarky, seemingly omniscient younger sister, Brandon Routh as the most entertaining ex, a glowing-eyed vegan with the power to smash buildings due to his rigorous vegan diet, and Kieran Culkin as Scott’s overly-emphasized gay roommate, oftentimes outshine the main characters with their sheer hilarity. Indeed, the movie often outshines itself with sheer hilarity.

Seven evil exes? At least you aren't costarring with
Kristen Stewart.
The plot also disappoints once you get beyond the sheer entertainment of delightful fight scenes with evil exes. Why, for instance, can Scott fight so well? Is this an idealized version of Scott’s disappointing real life? Or does this universe just work like an old-school video game? It’s never explained, because the movie really doesn’t care. For the same reason, it skates right over the exact reason why Scott is willing to fight to the death for a girl he met randomly, despite the fact that he’s known her for approximately a day when the first evil ex shows up, and he already has a girlfriend. Doesn’t matter, the movie says, just get with the karate-chopping. And yet, you don’t really notice the silliness of the movie, because it manages to entertain you so well.

Scott Pilgrim is one of the vanishingly small number of comic-book movies that manage to be actually funny, and it isn’t only funny, it’s hilarious. This movie is definitely best watched with a theater audience, or at least some good friends to add to the sheer entertainment of the movie. At a certain point, where Scott jumps through a window to avoid talking to his old girlfriend Knives (Ellen Wong), I laughed hard enough that my stomach hurt. And that is the reason that I recommend this movie. Whatever the plot oddities, and despite the other excellent reason to see this movie (namely the creative visuals), the main reason to see this movie is to laugh hard. The movie’s quirky, impossible sense of humor never fails to amuse, and is certainly worth the eight bucks.

Although “comic book” movies are becoming quite the rage nowadays, with comics such as V for Vendetta, Kick-Ass, and 300 being turned into movies, none of these movies come close to what Scott Pilgrim accomplishes. While other comic book adaptations have managed to be good movies, faithful adaptations, and stylistically entertaining (though not necessarily all at once), Scott Pilgrim has become the first truly comic-style movie. The eye candy visuals of the movie, with the pop-up words and sudden shifts of space, along with the frenetic pace and deliberate irony, make this movie the first to truly imitate the aesthetic of comic books, with a delightful result.

Come to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World expecting entertainment and eye candy, and nothing more; but definitely come to it, as its ground-breaking style and roller-coaster-ride story is not something one should miss out on.

Overall Review: Like

Death and Glory,

1 comment:

  1. Not going to lie, as much as I enjoyed your actual review I still think my favorite part here are your captions. Especially the Kirsten* Stewart one. haha. (what? I should totally do a Twilight review? What!? ......ok no. sorry. Just kidding.)


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