Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Scott Pilgrim v. The World

Does “Scott Pilgrim” Reinvents Movies?
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

What’s the recipe for director Edgar Wright’s new approach to moviemaking? Toss a simple love story into a blender, add some Mortal Combat video games, sprinkle in a few garage band YouTube riffs, mix in visual sound effects from the Batman TV show, then top off with a six-volume graphic novel by Brian Lee O’Malley titled “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” – and what you get is a movie of that same name aimed at a Generation Y audience.

“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is now entertaining slackers, geeks, and comic book fanboys at the Tropic Cinema.

Scott Pilgrim (perfectly played by Michael Cera of “Juno” and “Superbad” fame) is a twenty-two-year-old bassist in a not-so-good band who has been dealing with his depression from being dumped by a hot-chick rocker by “fake dating” a naïve young high school student (Ellen Wong). But all that changes when he meets a mysterious punker with purple hair named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

He dreams of her – or is it real? He approaches her in his fumbling manner, asking her to hang out with him. And we’re not sure why, but she accepts.

However, in order to win her as his girlfriend he discovers he must defeat in battle Ramona’s Seven Evil Ex’s, a lineup of guys and gals who are way cooler than that dweeb Scott Pilgrim.

These include Chris Evans (“Fantastic Four,” the upcoming “Captain America”) as a skateboarding movie star; Brandon Routh (“Superman Returns”) as a Vegan rock star; Mae Whitman (“Hope Floats”) as a bi- experiment; twin musicians who conjure up dragons; a magician who dresses like a pirate; and Jason Schwartzman (“Rushmore,” “I Heart Huckabees”) as a self-centered rock promoter.

But our plucky protagonist is determined to persevere, taking on each Evil Ex with kung fu fighting that might have been programmed for a video game. You even see the on-screen scores being tallied.

Yes, it’s CGI-flashy. Music visibly pulses with Jack Kirby radiation lines. Boxes appear on screen to describe each of the characters. Dick Tracy tags identify items in Scott’s miniscule apartment. Sound effects (“KABAM!”) are spelled out in big letters as if appearing in a comic book.

A skilled director, Edgar Wright resurrected zombie flicks with his satiric “Shaun of the Dead” and took a shot at cop movies with “Hot Fuzz.” But here he seems to be trying to reinvent moviemaking by marrying the media of today’s youth with the old cinematic art form. What he gets is a film with more style than substance.
Steve Bunch, a comic book geek who worked for me at Marvel Entertainment, posted his opinion on FaceBook: “I found it kinda boring and repetitive.”

Even so, Kieran Culkin (“Igby Goes Down”) steals every scene as Scott’s gay roommate. And Anna Kendrick (“Up in the Air,” “The Twilight Saga”) is spot-on as Scott’s bitchy sister. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (“Live Free or Die Hard”) remains a bit of a cipher, her character not revealing much depth, but she’s cool nonetheless. And Michael Cera may as well apply for a patent on his pathetic-yet-lovable loser shtick.
And so the movie zaps along with its quirky, surreal logic, all that glitz delivering a very simple message: Every relationship comes with a certain amount of baggage to overcome.

Bottom line: I liked it, but “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is not for everyone. As the end credits rolled, a 50+ moviegoer in a seat near me muttered, “What did I just see?”
[from Solares Hill]

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