Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Grumpy Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

UPDATE: Check out another favorable review by my Canuck buddy at badkidsgoodgrammar. Be sure to make fun of the way she adds the letter "u" to words that don't need it. Silly Canadians.

I should not have like this movie at all. The basic premise is that Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) has to fight the 7 evil ex-boyfriends of new girlfriend Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), which is a good set up. But the trailer mainly featured a bunch of eccentric kids having eccentric conversations about their eccentric lives....all to the soundtrack of eccentric music. I probably wouldn't have even bothered seeing it if not for hearing a pretty funny radio interview with stars Michael Cera and Jason Schwartzman. But I didn't have my hopes set too high, lest I get stuck watching a movie bogged down with actors trying to out-quirk each other.

I actually like Michael Cera. He was awesome in Superbad, and although he plays the same semi-emo character in pretty much every movie he's in, he still manages to be funny in the movies I've seen him in, and Scott Pilgrim was no exception to either rule. Plus, in the aforementioned radio interview he talked about the training he had to go through to pull off the fight scenes in the movie, and I defy anyone not to laugh at the thought of combat training for what looks like the lovechild of a 70 year old woman and a frog.

Jason Schwartzman, however, is one of those indie rock dudes that I usually can't stand. For some reason, though, I can't help but like the guy. He's definitely the epitome of the hipster culture, but he's one of the few hipsters I've seen that doesn't have to kill himself trying to be the coolest guys in the room. And he wasn't afraid to completely douche it up as Gideon, the leader of the ex-boyfriends. I can appreciate over-the-top douchiness (ask pretty much anyone who knows me), and Schwartzman nails it. In fact, all of the exes were pretty much spot on, from Chris Evans' lunkhead actor to Brandon's Routh vegan-superpowered musician.

The guy who steals the show, however, would have to be Kieran "The More Talented" Culkin as Cera's gay roomate, Wallace. His basic purpose is to provide wise-ass commentary with a string of one-liners and to patiently converse with Scott about his new predicament with Ramona in bed, as Scott cannot afford one of his own. And I'll be damned if I didn't get a kick out of every second of it. My only disappointment is that Wallace becomes rather under-utilized in the second half of the movie.

I would complain more about the lack of background of most of the other characters, especially the other ex-boyfriends, except that's kind of the point of the movie's plot structure. The whole story breaks down like a video game, with the exes serving as bosses. And when you think about it, when you played video games did you ever really give a rat's ass about character development? Hell no, you just wanted badass villains that looked cool and that you could eventually beat the crap out of. And that's exactly what you get here. In fact, the movie is loaded with nods to video games fans, especially the Street Fighter-esque fighting games of the nineties.

So needless to say, my fears about Scott Pilgrim being a hipster mess were unfounded, and I really dug this movie. I guess I should have guessed it would be good when I found out it was directed by Edgar Wright, of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame. It's a shame that the movie doesn't seem to be doing well at the box office so far, because it's a blast to watch. And it actually managed to portray the lives of low- to mid-twentysomethings with enough realism to resonate with me an remind me that I'm not as far removed from them as I'd like to think I am. Hopefully, word of mouth will give it a second life when it comes out on DVD because deserves to do well.

Grade: A-


  1. BAH! You beat me to it!!! I am going to do my own review of Scott Pilgram so instead of reading yours, I skipped down to the comments section in a big hurry to tell you that I didn't read this post, but that I WILL read this post soon!

  2. Ok, I finished my post (to be posted tomorrow) and read yours! Great review, and I agree. It could have gone in a hipper-than-thou direction, but I couldn't be happier with the results (as my nearly disgustingly love-drenched post will reveal!)

  3. Haha we Canadians and our Us... colours, neighbours, flouwers... wait that one's not right...

    Great review!