Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Problems

Oh Scott Pilgrim, how you have fallen from grace. What started as a fantastic geek-centric graphic novel series about a 20-something slacker whose world is ruled by video games references and adoring characters has become a bit of a mess both on the page and on the screen. However, just because Scott Pilgrim isn’t what he SHOULD be, doesn’t make him worthless to experience at least once…does it?

Honestly, it depends on who you are.

All commentary about the book series aside, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a movie with some big pleasures and some big problems. It is sort of like a sweet looking Bat-Mobile that has the interior of a 1987 Toyota Tercel. It’ll catch your eye and start a crowd, but once you take a peek inside what it has to offer, it’s really just not that cool anymore. What is a real shame is that few of the film’s problems have anything to do with the direction of Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz). In fact, Edgar Wright is the best part of the movie considering that it is filled with meta interruptions, awesome edits to the material, and new (better) video game references that were not originally in the books. This guy kind of had a big job to do in condensing six volumes of story into a decent two hour movie, and in my opinion he succeeds but just barely. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is mostly degraded by a combination of its source material and some of the worst casting decisions of the year. Edgar Wright does manage to nurse the Twilight-sized plot holes of the story’s narrative and reform it for the sake of his fans who have never even heard of the books, but he deserves a far better project than this. If somehow there was a time machine that would lead to the moment when Mr. Wright decided to pursue Scott Pilgrim over his Ant-Man movie, I would convince Skynet to send the most convincing Terminator Conversationalist to set things right again.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is about a nerd slacker who falls in love with a complete stranger named Ramona Flowers after he sees her rollerblading in his dreams. Scott manages to strike up a relationship with Ramona, but before they can truly be together, he must defeat her seven evil exes. Oh and there are a lot of video game references along the way that will make some people smirk and hipsters totally lose their shit.

YAY:

  • From start to finish this film is a visual delight. Whether there is an over the top fight scene taking place or Scott and his band Sex Bob-omb are about to lay down the skinny, it’s fun to watch. Some folks will find all the weird colors and additions to be distracting, but they stick with the overall nature of the material. Above all else, the team that worked on the visual aesthetics deserve the utmost praise at the end of the day. Hopefully someone will have the guts to award you guys and gals.
  • Usually when a movie adaptation is made of a graphic novel, “Hollywood” changes a few things for the better but 9 times out of 10 it will be for the worst. Not the case here. Edgar Wright has actually improved the source material with the various changes he has done to the narrative. Overall the story makes a whole lot more sense and is a bit funnier as well.
  • The fight scenes are pretty awesome and inventive. Being a huge supporter of video game tropes and styles carrying over to film, I was thoroughly happy with the choices made here. The camera stays far enough from the action for you to see every hit and miss of a fist or flaming sword of love. I think this is also the first time that a shoryuken has been captured in all of its glory on the big screen.
  • Kieran Culkin, you are the man. Not since Nelsen Ellis’ portrayal of Lafayette has a gay man been so swooning and bad ass on screen. Not to mention your performance was truly the life of the party. I look forward to watching your career skyrocket.

NAY:

  • I do not care how good Arrested Development was, Michael Cera sucks. He was funny on A.Dev and in Superbad, but his whole nervous yet smart acting scheme is really all that he can do. Here he is on a project where he can really win some new people over with the character of Scott Pilgrim (a really awesome and hyperactive caricature of the a.d.d age) and he blows it. Going further with how terrible he is, Edgar Wright could not get anything else out of him but the usual. I mean this guy directed Bill Nighy (not the science guy) in two films and got some hilarious performances. If he couldn’t get him to do anything else besides read the witty lines in his usual stupid “I’m awkward so like me” voice then he really needs to become friends with Lindsey Blohan so he’ll have more of chance of ending up in jail than on the screens of my local theater.
  • Brie Larson and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, do you enjoy being deadpan? You girls really could have done something to illustrate some ferocity or genuine fan-boy appeal if you had at least tried to get into the characters and make them your own. Winstead, your version of Ramona Flowers may invoke how terrible and lifeless of a character she is in the books, but you could have gone beyond the page and become the object of every nerd’s affection. The same goes for you Ms. Larson! You actually had a pretty intriguing rocker-chick persona in Envy Adams and you were just, well, bitchy. Maybe a little less Avril Lavigne and a little more Joan Jett would have gone a long way.
  • I know this is going to piss a lot of people off but the appeal of Scott Pilgrim is solely in the nerd aesthetic. If you want a fun story or something to sink your teeth into, then this is not your cup of tea. In fact the quality of story that is here is similar to that of Twilight. The two main characters are in love for absolutely no apparent reason, the world they inhabit does not make sense, and there is a romantic dichotomy that would split dudes into camps of team Knives and team Ramona. I’m sorry but the comparison is there to be made and it is not that far off to be honest.

To attain the most fun out of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, you need to approach it with no prior knowledge of the books and a superhuman deterrent for all things Michael Cera. If you love video games, mindless entertainment and Michael Cera then this might as well be straight up pornography for you. Is the movie worth watching? Yes. Is it worth ten bucks of your hard earned money? No. My advice is that you rent it when it comes out and take it at face value. There is some fun to be had here but not without a price.

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