So, here it is, my official “review” and stuff. Well, it’s not a review, because I think reviews suck. For example, the groan-worthy Washington Post gave this movie 1.5 stars. One! Uno! Un! Eins! Ena!? WaPo critic, Ann Hornaday, called it a “dog-frequency movie.” That’s criminally insane.
The movie is completely unique and slightly undefinable. Just as much as it’s source, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s now iconic graphic novels. The movie and source diverge a bit (mostly in the nitty gritty), but director Edgar Wright has been working on the project since O’Malley’s Volume 2 was just a draft. Wright even said that O’Malley used lines from the script in later volumes of the six volume series. That’s pretty cool. Anyway, back to my point. Undefinable. The world of Scott Pilgrim is a videogame, but it’s not.
Scott is Mario. Affable, sweet, and occasionally clueless. Ramona, his slightly less in peril Princess Peach. She’s the girl of Scott’s dreams. Literally a manic pixie dream girl (heavier on the manic in the film). Rather than a rotund plumber, our hero is a sinewy bassist in the rather rockin band, Sex Bob-Ombs. Each “level” of the film culminates with a boss battle where Scott faces down an evil ex. He’s got good fighting skills and pretty sweet combos, but like any other boss, the key is finding out their weakness to defeat them. It’s and 80/20 brains to brawn split. Each defeat cues a cut scene cinematic, and our hero picks up random power-ups and talks to side characters along the way that assist him in his mission. But there’s none of that nouveau first person stuff here. This is classic, side scrolling, NES material (with twinges of Sega Genesis).
It’s not just like a game, though. It’s not solely an homage to games. It’s what the world would be like if we had to consider what power-ups different drinks gave us. The unique part about SP is that this fact is not dwelled upon. It’s a world where boss battles are a normal occurrence. Nobody ever questions Mario’s magical warp pipes, you just jump in and play. That’s what Scott’s Toronto is–it just…is. That said, it’s not a “video game movie,” as the NY Times would have you believe. In fact, there wasn’t a Scott Pilgrim videogame until a week ago.
And you thought Inception was confusing.
“You cocky cock!” (or How you’re getting it wrong, critics)
I think the problem for, I don’t know, let’s call them “mainstreamers,” is that there is a geek revolution going on right now, and people that don’t “get it” are starting to get pissed. Cue Miss Hornaday’s review, “it’s as monotonous and enervating as one long, sneering in-joke.” Can you enjoy this movie if you don’t play videogames? Yes. Will you get all the jokes–why, at seemingly random moments, people burst out laughing? Probably not. But, hey, I don’t read the paper every day and I still think The Daily Show is funny. I’ve never lived in a war zone, but I can watch a World War II movie and understand the sorrow. It’s like certain people don’t want to learn about things labeled as “genre” because it would make them a loser. No, people like Hornaday, it just means you are taking the time to educate yourself before you publish a scathing review with no basis in fact. Not to nerd-slap you, Annie, but there is no “lightsaber” battle. Ramona is not “eerily similar” to Hit Girl. A dyed bob does not a sociopathic mini-murderer make.
That’s the other thing to be wary of, the comparisons. My gawd, this movie is nothing like Kick-Ass. It’s not like Ghost World at all. Not all graphic novels are alike! One film calling on the aesthetic of a graphic novel does not make it the same as any other. It’s also not a celebration of “snarly, eye-rolling hipsters,” as Hornaday puts it. The only true hipster in the movie is Gideon Graves…the villain…who enters the final scene to the tune of “Death to All Hipsters” from Radiohead producer, Nigel Godrich’s ridiculously awesome score. WaPo, not all Canadians are hipsters (…or are they? Tricksie Canadia).
The saddest thing about most of the reviews is the lack of love for the supporting characters. Not just the evil exes, of which it’s near impossible to choose a favorite (Lucas Lee, Roxy Richter, and Todd Ingram probably top the list). Kim Pine is the “smokin hot redhead on drums” and probably the most intelligent and together person in the movie. She’s maybe the only one I was sorry to see get jobbed in the script (besides Ramona, of course). Stephen Stills, while spazzy and contract hungry, is a stone cold foxy frontman (no doubt due in large part to the grungy perfection of Beck’s songwriting for the fictional band). Wallace Wells, is the coolest, funniest character ever. He’s so well written by O’Malley and played by Keiran Culkin that people shouldn’t even care that he’s gay (another thing WaPo blathers about). Knives Chau embodies the naivete we all wish we could have kept intact while Young Neil embodies a generation of sweet gamers that always have one foot in an 8-bit world.
All in all, Edgar Wright was in good form here. Never mocking, always celebrating, with an exuberance and wit rarely seen these days.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Can you dig it?
How was Ramona for you? Was she less bad ass than her illustrated counterpart?
Did you think the film sacrificed the development of Scott and Ramona’s relationship?
Who is your favorite evil ex?
Wright said he’s never had anyone else in mind for Scott. What did you think of the casting? Do you agree with me that Brie Larson (Envy Adams in the film) may have made a better Ramona? Who surprised you?
Is the movie really just for geeks?
What minor character did you miss most from the books?
It’s happened, the misogyny claims are coming out in full force. Is Scott a mysoginist?
Should we expect one movie to serve 500 masters (men, women, gays, geeks, critics)?
What line were you hoping would make it into the movie that didn’t? (I’m all weepy about Scott’s X-Men line not getting in.)
Did you think they wasted Nega Scott or cleverly gave tribute to his existence?
Edgar Wright said the studios wanted him to consider cutting exes. Thoughts?
Wright intentionally set out to make one movie (rather than risking a franchise). Pro or con?
Are you in love with the soundtrack?
What was in the movie that would have been sa-weet in the books? (Lucas Lee’s stunt team comes to mind.)
Here are all of Lucas Lee’s movies. With some of the best tag lines EVER! What’s your favorite?