scott pilgrim vs the world
Film, 2010, 3 stars
Directed: Edgar Wright
Written: Michael Bacall, Edgar Wright
I wasn't thinking I'd review this film as the lesbian content in it is pretty small, but a quick poll on Twitter (thanks tweeps!) convinced me that people out there think it counts. Really, this film is a niche as it gets, and yet people outside the geekdom/video game/nerdy-as-it-comes world seem to actually get the jokes. Some things are just that iconic. Problem is, most just won't think they're terribly interesting or funny.
Scott Pilgrim vs The World had some moments where I desperately wanted to crawl out of the cinema in embarrassment, but there were other points - the spectacular fight scene during the battle of the bands is worth a mention - where I really dug what Edgar Wright was trying to do here. As with his other comedies like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, some people will love it and some people just won't connect with it, but nobody can argue that it lacks visual appeal.
I'm not certain Michael Cera has the chops to really draw a crowd with this performance - he's just not dynamic enough, and we've all seen him play this dorky guy too many times. This performance is almost identical to his work in something like Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, but not as appealing simply because we've seen it all before. As Ramona too, Mary Elizabeth Winstead could have gone to town with this performance, but instead she seems almost bored rather than coolly aloof.
The premise is pretty simple, if a bit wacky. Scott Pilgrim falls in love with Ramona, but dating her has a catch. Her ex-boyfriend Gideon has assembled the "League of the Seven Evil Exes", a rag-tag force that one by one will try and eliminate Scott and force Ramona back into the evil clutches of her evil ex (did you get that he's evil yet?). Scott goes from dorky to kung-fu king in seconds, defeating one after the other of evil exes through force, trickery or musical prowess, whichever is applicable to that evil ex and his/her specific weakness.
Yes, there is a "her" among the evil exes, hence the appearance of the film on this website. We have ex-girlfriend Roxy Richter, a fantastic turn by Mae Whitman (of Arrested Development and Parenthood fame). Ramona says she was in a "bi-curious phase", to which Roxy responds with "well, I'm just bi-furious!" which just happened to be my favourite line in the movie, followed closely by calling Ramona a "hasbian" and declaring to Scott, "You punched me in the boob! Prepare to die, obviously!"
Yes, that's the general level of the film's humour, even when the film is working well. I recommend going into it jacked up on sugar, because you won't make it otherwise. This is a film that rewards geeking out and hyperactivity. Or being fifteen, that'd help too.
The likes? Scott's gay roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin) and his magical ability to text while sleeping. Anna Kendrick as Scott's odd sister who keeps having her boyfriends turned by Wallace. Alison Pill as Kim Pine who steals every scene she's in. "Scott, if your life was a face, I'd punch it." I've loved her since she played Anne Kronenberg in Milk and she's just hilarious here. (She also has a massive resume I only just found on IMDb so now I know what I'll be doing for the next month.) Top of the pile though is Ellen Wong as Knives Chau - what a terrific find. Hilarious and annoying in equal measure, but convincing at every turn.
The dislikes? At least three of the evil exes were just plain dumb. Brandon Routh tried but could do nothing with Todd the "vegan man", though the Vegan Police were pretty cool. I hope Chris Evans has better luck in The Avengers, because he couldn't even ham up a superhero here, and Satya Bhabha had nothing to work with playing Matthew Patel. Ramona herself never once convinced me she was worth fighting for, so that kind of kills the premise too.
The film is definitely creative, visually interesting, has some laugh-out-loud moments and some real love for its fans. It is unique in its outlook, though not really original in genre. The homage to golden-oldie slacker fantasy comedies like Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure is really obvious, and if it weren't for amazing performances such as his work in Juno I'd be afraid of Micheal Cera's potential to be the next Keanu Reeves (and I don't mean that in a good way).
I guess, despite my self-professed geekdom, this didn't really float my boat. Some fantastic effects and a few great lines doesn't make a great movie, and this has really limited appeal outside of its core demographic. Many have predicted cult film status on DVD. I'm not actually even sure it's good enough for that. I guess we'll have to wait a few years and see.