Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

I really was hoping to get to a full post this week, but a number of things have come up that I'm not at liberty to talk about and so I'm at the point now that I'm past the point of exhaustion. Still, I do have some words in my head that I feel are worth giving up sleep to share, so I hope you'll enjoy my review of Scott Pilgrim.

Best Comic Movie Ever
It was with very little fanfare that I went to see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on opening night. The ads were never really appealing to me and I felt like Michael Cera was being typecast so I figured this movie would be a flop. Still, there was enough positive buzz that I agreed to come along when a friend wanted to go and I'm floored at how opposite of a reaction I had to this film. Not only is it probably the biggest surprises of my life as far as movies go (not plot-wise, just in my feelings about it), but it's hands down one of the most fun experiences I've ever had in a movie theater.

The plot of Scott Pilgrim is pretty much exactly what you'd expect from the trailers: Michael Cera is Scott Pilgrim, who has fallen in love with a very alluring girl who, as it so happens, has 7 evil exes who have banded together to ensure that no one dates her if they can't. You really have to go into the movie accepting that this is the plot because it's not anything deeper than that, and that's a big part of what I love about it. This is one of the few movies I've seen in a long while that understands exactly what it needs to do and really nails it. It focuses on a few things and blows them out of the park. So even though the romance story is never fully fleshed out, it's the first movie I've seen that has felt like a comic book and a video game have come to life, slept together, and produced a child on the big screen.

I don't know how true it is to the comic book, but that's irrelevant because it stands on its own as something really smart if you can appreciate the references and things it tries to parody. You don't have to be a gamer or a comic book fan to enjoy the film, you're just guaranteed to love it if you are either. I never thought I'd see a movie that got so many things right about video games - everything from nonsensical fights to collecting coins where it doesn't make sense to a ton of subtle things that are just elegantly done. It's either subtle or obviously over-the-top, it never beats a joke to death. I laughed a lot - from even before the movie formally started - but I also saw very few promotional materials.

Aside from those facets, the music is perfect for the movie. I almost felt like it had as much music as a musical without the baggage that would entail. The cast really contributing to pulling off the music though. I believed in them in their roles, as crazy as the world they lived in ended up being. I believed their passion for their music, and that was a cool feeling. The way they weaved music into the storyline was truly clever.

I can't leave out how much heart this movie had either. I don't mean gushy have-a-good-cry heart, I just mean that it actually makes you feel good to be a nerd if you're a nerd. It makes you want to go out and jam out on your guitar or play Street Fighter or something - I just felt pumped and enamored with how much the director seemed to love music and video games and comics.

Unfortunately, I don't think this is a movie everyone will love. I can't imagine anyone hating it because it just makes you feel so good walking out of it, but I can see parts of it being harder to appreciate without being in your 20s or early 30s. It is somewhat of a niche movie, but I wouldn't be ashamed to show it to anyone (assuming they're at least a teenager). I will say that the writing is weak at times. Even though I did identify somewhat with the romance, it was still at times handled a little strangely. I can see people taking issue with the characters, but I actually liked how non-traditional they were. They weren't people you could totally peg down, but in a good way. One minor gripe I had was that the ending was possibly a little more drawn out than it needed to be, but I didn't really mind that much.

This movie is easily an A+ to me, and I urge you to please go and see it. It's only done like $10 million and I think it'll make it up over the course of its run in theaters and on home video, but I feel bad that the makers may not feel the love from the box office that I felt for this movie. I feel silly having had such a strong positive reaction to a romantic comedy action movie that appeals to the 12-year-old inside of me, but I can't lie: I enjoyed this film and can't wait to get it on Blu-ray.


I also saw Inception over the weekend and I know it's been talked about to death, but I just wanted to quickly say that I agree about it being a must-watch. You may want to see it before Scott Pilgrim because it's definitely not as light overall as Scott Pilgrim, but it's an experience on par with Memento. I really didn't think it was as complicated as people said it was - I mean unlike Donnie Darko, they actually explicitly explained ideas to you. Albeit, often in more words than necessary, but they did. Go see it in theaters because the visuals are truly stunning - not in the way that Avatar was, but more just from a creativity standpoint. If you want my score: easily an A.


suomynona said...

I loved "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" as well. Best movie I've seen this year. I think you should factor in anyone that's ever played video games or pinball machines. That goes back quite a ways, so I think this movie will have quite the cult following. I'm 41 and got/appreciated all of the jokes. I see it doing very well on home video. I also see being able to tell hundreds of people we meet for the rest of our lives when they say "I wish I had seen that in theaters" that I did -- and I saw it at the Cinerama. Neener bleeping neener. (Julie reference.)

People are going to be kicking themselves for years for missing out.

Proof of that? Top 4 films in the country this weekend at the box office have a 32% or less freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes...

Elton said...

It's always disheartening when the best movies in theaters don't make the most money, but at least we can look forward to it surely doing well on home video - a higher percentage of people who see it in theaters will want to buy it compared to the other top films out, and then of course the cult hit effect will really take its course.

suomynona said...

It's difficult to compare SPvTW to another film, but a couple of my favorite films come to mind.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off ($70M) and Say Anything ($20M) didn't do big numbers at the box office, but their cult status is huge. I wonder how much both of those films have made on home video...

The thing I've found with multiple viewings of SPvTW is that it's best seen with multiple people. I mean, I get the jokes, but to share it with someone else who hasn't seen it yet and be able to experience it again for the first time is something special.

I'm guessing that you've seen the SPvTW mash ups on youtube. The best two are the Last Airbender and Matrix. If not, enjoy :)