Thursday, August 12, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Directed by Edgar Wright

Written by Edgar Wright, Michael Bacall, and Bryan Lee O'Malley (comics)

Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Brandon Routh, and Jason Schwartzman

Synopsis: In order to date Ramona Flowers, Scott Pilgrim must defeat her seven evil exes out to destroy him.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World- she said

Sometimes we forget to have fun at the movies. Or the movies that are suppose to be “fun” end up being very forgettable and lackluster. I am honestly tired of those movies. I can’t remember the last time I left a movie smiling because I spent the whole time laughing and thoroughly enjoying myself. Then, I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

This movie is just plain fun. Fun, fun, fun. It’s non-stop hilariousness, with a copious amount of heart and a splash of coke zero mixed with hair dye…oh and people exploding into coins. It’s flashy, gaudy, cheesy, unique and feels like you just stepped out of a pop-art exhibit or an Atari video game.

Now, I was told by my cohort, Javi, that I needed to read the books because they were epic. I agreed to read them because he’s never suggested a graphic book that I’ve disliked (well, the only other was Watchmen, but still), so I gave the books a shot. And the most notable thing about the books are they made me laugh, literally, out loud. So, when I heard there was a movie being made, I got really excited. But were they going to keep the campiness that is woven throughout the books? After all, the books are basically about a 23 year old falling in love, but in this world, any character can break out into a Mortal Kombat-ish fight, and when defeated, will burst into coins.

I am happy to say that yes, the movie keeps the heart and campiness that the books possess. And you would think that this would seem weird or out of place for fights to break out, but no, in this world, it seems perfectly normal. Everything detail in here is so unique and fun, it almost requires a second viewing to catch everything. Sometimes I found myself laughing so hard, I think I missed some things.

What I enjoyed about the movie is how accurately it captured the awkwardness that life is for a jobless, semi-hopeless, looking-for-love twenty-something. Now Scott is dating 17 year old, Knives, who is way more into him than he is to her. But he keeps dreaming about a girl, Ramona, who he later and very awkwardly tries to pick up at a party. All the while, he’s in a band with his friends trying to find their big break. Ramona seems to dig him. Why…I’m not exactly sure, but they seem to hit it off. Then trouble comes. Ramona is apparently THAT girl which exes have a problem getting over. There are seven of her exes that Scott has to defeat in order to even date her.

So that’s Scott’s quest. Not an easy one when two of her exes are Chris Evans and Brandon Routh. It’s hard to pick which ex was my favorite because they’re all extreme in their own ways. Chris Evans channels his inner-douchey action star who’s too big for his own britches, while Brandon Routh is the clean-cut, perfect Vegan who gained his powers from being Vegan (maybe I should think about that). All the other exes are just a quirky, but they were my favorite.

Also, when did Michael Cera become an action star? I mean, this is the kid from Arrested Development and Juno who has become trapped as playing himself in every movie. Here, he is able to take a different route and actually play a believable love interest and action hero. Weird, I know, but he does it.

Also, the parade of supporting characters completely embody the epicness of the books. Many of them have amazing one-liners and subtleties within their scenes that make this movie one of the most unique movies of the year. Pilgrim’s roommate, Wallace Wells (played by Kieran Culkin), kept me in stitches. Every thing he says is so perfectly placed and timed, he has such a future in comedy.

At its core, Scott Pilgrim is a coming of age story. It’s kind of like Garden State, except if Garden State was set in a video game inspired by Andy Warhol. It’s about trying to find yourself and actually being happy; it’s about trying to let go of the past and facing the past if it interrupts your life; it’s about, literally, fighting for what you want; and it’s about second chances. The movie explores all of these situations with a fresh and original take.  It will definitly speak to the under 30s, but I'm not sure how it was play to older audiences.  People will embrace it for it's unique style and visual eye-candy, and I just hope they see past the campiness and are able to embrace the film.  It’s loaded with heart and humor and is easily one of the most fun movies of the year.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World- he said

     2010 has been a dreadful year for movies in general. Movie stars are not commanding the same box office power they once held; esteemed blockbuster producers are failing all around, and all the meanwhile, moviegoers keep getting charged more to see extra dark “3D” movies that look like a graphic design student’s first project. Even though I digress, there are still really great movies here and there. (Inception was obviously one of them). This is why it is exciting to see a movie like Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World that comes out to show people the fun times that can be had at a movie. On its surface, the movie is about a lazy and kind of dickish protagonist, Scott Pilgrim (Cera not playing Cera for once), trying to win the heart of the wonderfully alluring Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) by fighting her seven evil exes. But it is so much more; with its fast paced sense of humor, its entertaining visuals that add to the hilarity and deceptively deep story, Scott Pilgrim is my most recommended movie of the year.

     To preface, I will say that I have been a fan of the books and have read the entire series, so walking into this I had a bit of an idea of what this would look and feel like. It goes to say, that this is a great adaptation of the source material, and even if it doesn’t maintain the exact same events of the comics, it does keep the spirit. Director Edgar Wright has made what I imagine could very well be our generation’s version of The Graduate (Oh snap! Did I just go there?) This mirrors my generation’s overall feelings of confusion and uncertainty all while trying to find our meaning in this fast-paced world. The set and costume design was like seeing the book on screen, in the best way possible. The music is a particularly high point for me because the movie highlights three of my favorite artists, Beck, Broken Social Scene, and Metric. They all contributed music which masqueraded as the in-universe bands. Coupled with Nigel Godrich scoring (psst he’s Radiohead’s main producer for those that don’t know), you have aural and visual treats keeping you so busy you need to see this movie again.

     But what about the actors? I know everyone has the same complaint about Michael Cera at this point, and I will say he finally doesn’t play himself! I never saw Youth In Revolt, but I almost feel that this is an evolution of that role, where they said he was breaking away from playing the same tired character. In the comic, Scott is clueless, cocky and all the while being childish and a bit insecure of himself (why else would he date a high school girl?), and I have to say that Cera channels him well. When he hits on Ramona, there’s shyness to him, but he’s no Paulie Bleeker (his character in Juno). Plus! he does pretty amazing fight moves; hell the final battle is worth the price of admission alone, but I will say I am not 100% how much of the stunts he did himself. Among the large and awesome cast, Kieran Culkin, who plays his awesome gay roommate Wallace Wells, steals the show constantly from Scott. Ellen Wong, who plays Knives Chau, Scott’s high school girlfriend, is not annoying like in the book, and this makes her character all the better. Out of the evil exes, my favorite had to be Chris Evans as Lucas Lee, an overtly cocky movie star/skater, because his one-liners are amazing. And since I hated him so much, Jason Schwartzman, as Gideon, does a good job of making Gideon a complete tool, though I will say he’s basically the same character that he played from Funny People, which is getting old.

     As far as the story goes, the fans of the books will be greatly pleased. There are many times during the first 30 minutes of the movie where scenes are recreated perfectly from the books, giving you that awesome feeling that some people might’ve gotten from Watchmen. After that, the movie goes off into its own unique but good direction. This makes sense since the first draft of the movie was already done when the third book was released. The only time that the change of the story really bothered me was the final battle and the ending. While it was great, compared to the battle and ending of the book it felt a bit lacking. But this feels like a little fan boy nitpick.

     Even though I might be forgiving in ending of the movie, the editing and transitioning between scenes was a little strange at times, and might be off putting for some people. It’s very stream-of-consciousness, but if people aren’t familiar with the style of the book or “get” the movie, they will not like it. And in a weird way, I have a bit of a problem in how Scott and Ramona’s relationship starts. In the book, the relationship feels more organic, whereas the movie was just her liking him for no real reason, and maybe she was a bit frisky, but who knows. All of these are just personal quirks against it; it feels nothing major when compared to how big the applause was after both of the screenings I went to.

     For anyone that grew up loving video games, pop culture, and copious amounts of Mountain Dew and wants a movie with great fight scenes, visuals, and even a smarter-than-the-average-bear romantic comedy, go see Scott Pilgrim. Edgar Wright has managed to make not only an entertaining and hilarious movie, but also one that I believe speaks to a lot of twenty-somethings right now. While I noticed that a lot of older people in my screening liked the movie, the potentially niche appeal this movie has might be killer at the box office. Out of all of the movies coming out this week, Scott Pilgrim is the only that manages to be either original or entertaining.