After dipping into the classics well last week, I wanted to come back this week with something current. Something decidedly less heavy. Maybe a little more fun.
I decided on “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”.
Based on the series of graphic novels by Canadian author/artist Bryan Lee O’Malley, “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” is a unique film, full of style and charm, directed by Edgar Wright of “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” fame.
The star of our show is the nuerotic Scott Pilgrim, played by Michael Cera. Pilgrim worries about his hair, gets nervous around girls, changes his tshirts every five seconds… much like your typical, average, every day young adult. There are times when he demonstrates boatloads of confidence, and others when he’s a shrinking wallflower. He shares an apartment with his gay roommate, Wallace Wells, and has a younger sister, Stacey.
Scott plays bass in the band “Sex Bob-omb” (A cross between “Bob-omb”, a character from Super Mario Bros. 2 and the Flipper song “Sex Bomb”). The other two members of the trio are friends of his from high-school… the drummer also happens to be one of his ex-girlfriends. Sex Bob-omb’s gigs provide the movie with much of it’s music. They have an punk/indy-rock sensibility, and their performances help power the film. With music provided by Beck, Sex Bob-omb provides a sizable portion of the movie’s cool.
The movie opens with Scott dating a high school girl. Her name is Knives, and she’s only 17 (Scott is 22). The two of them talk, shop, and spend time playing video games, but at this point it’s still totally innocent. Scott seems to be merely enjoying her infatuation with him. It doesn’t stop his drummer from ragging on him about their age difference, however. The rest of the band (Scott has an understudy in the form of “Young” Neal) is happy to accept her, though, as she’s the band’s biggest fan.
After dreaming of a girl on roller-skates, however, Scott begins to lose interest… You see, even though he dreamt of her first, she’s an actual person.
Scott actually gets to meet the literal “girl of his dreams”.
He just glimpses her in a library at first, but later runs into her at a party. Throwing caution to the wind, he nervously approaches her and awkwardly makes small talk.
“I’ll leave you alone forever now…”
Pilgrim is undeterred. He asks around and learns that her name is Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and that she works as a delivery-girl. He places an order just so that he can see her again. He manages to convince her to go out with him (she agrees so he’ll finally sign for his package and she can leave) and the two actually hit it off. They wind up sleeping together (actually sleeping) and soon are officially dating.
Of course, Scott still needs to break up with Knives, but he has bigger problems than that…
It’s revealed that if Scott wants to continue dating Ramona, he will need to defeat her “Seven Evil Exes”.
A different ex of Ramona’s attacks him at every turn. They’ve actually banded together now to form a league.
Each of the “Exes” attacks differently, creating a string of unique battle scenes. Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha) sings and dances, Bollywood style. Lucas Lee (Chris Evans) sends a horde of his stunt doubles. Todd Ingram (Brandon Routh) has mystic powers due to his Veganism… resulting in a sci-fi battle complete with telekinetic powers and Men In Black type police. Roxanne Richter (Mae Whitman) brings weapons into play, in a scene that’s “Kill Bill” meets Bugs Bunny. The Katayanagi twins engage in a battle of the bands against Sex Bob-omb, summoning constructs which battle each other above the crowd. The ultimate battle against the head of the league, Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzman) takes place on an elevated platform with flaming swords, calling Star Wars to mind.
Each battle has a different feel, different inspirations, and different action. It keeps the movie changing and varied and interesting throughout. The battles defy gravity, with the participants speeding at each other and leaping through the air, throwing martial arts combos and super-powered punches. Video game scores and effects flash, and defeated villains burst into showers of coins.
The string of battles that Scott endures lead to the final, epic confrontation between him and the leader of the League of Evil Exes, Gideon Graves. Graves, in addition to being the most powerful ex, and the founder of the league, is a club owner and record exec who has offered Sex Bob-omb a contract. They (with Neal replacing Scott) play for him now. In order to defeat Graves, Scott will need to untangle the relationship mess between himself, Ramona and Knives, win back the support of his band, and confront his own, inner demon.
Director Edgar Wright has crafted an ingenious film that’s perfect for its time (which is still NOW, seeing as it’s less than two years old).
It’s not just the fighting scenes keeping the movie invigorated and full of style… the entire movie is shot in a frenetic, ADHD style. It changes settings, opponents, and supporting playes as frequently as Scott changes his t-shirts. It constantly interjects exclamatory graphics lifted straight out of 8-bit video games. KO! Written sound effects, sliding split screens, text overlays, background images, superimposed graphics, sudden voiceovers, and even cartoons. The movie also juggles and mixes genres. At times it’s a romance, at others, an action film. But it’s also a comedy with touches of sci-fi and a dash of Bollywood tossed in for good measure.
“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is a movie that feels completely unique and original. It’s funny, fun, fast paced, and highly entertaining. It takes all of the angst and drama involved in teen relationships and makes an action comedy out of it. The movie is loaded with excellent music, most of it woven directly into the narrative. It’s a visually fascinating movie, using video game and television conventions at will. It’s a genre bending mashup for the smart phone generation, where the lines between video games, movies and music are blurred.
It was a disappointment at the box office, but quickly found an audience on DVD and Blu and it’s already considered a “Cult Classic”.
It’s definitely a “Movie That Everyone Should See”.