About a year ago, while thumbing through Wizard magazine, I read an article about the movie rights of indie comics being purchased for production now that the Age of Nerdity is reaching its peak.
Every tiny little property is being gobbled up by studios big and small in hopes that they’ll draw a crowd and possibly cause the next box office explosion.
One of the properties mentioned was Scott Pilgrim. I hadn’t read the book but, after reading the article and finding out that Edgar Wright was attached to direct and was telling everyone how great this series was, I had to run out and take care of it.
Quickly, somewhere within the first half of the first volume, I completely fell in love with this comic. I became a Scottaholic. I devoured volumes one through five in one sitting and was angry that the sixth would have to wait until closer to movie time. I found myself going back and re-reading, looking for all the hidden little references I could find.
My qualifications aside, I should probably tell you a little about Scott Pilgrim and why I fell completely head over heels for this book and was waiting with baited breath for the movie.
Scott Pilgrim’s universe drifts somewhere between comics, video games, and reality. Most sounds are shown with an onomatopoeia, character introductions include a small box of subtext, and there are scores, bars, and other visual effects visible to the audience as well as the characters in the movie. In a way, it allows the movie to slightly bend if not put pinholes in the fourth-wall, which is always a good time.
Scott (Michael Cera), as you may have gathered from the trailers, falls hard for Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and must defeat her Seven Evil Exes if he wants to continue dating her. This, of course, leads to numerous fight sequences, most of them prefaced by a fight-starting “vs.” screen and including small video game pop-ups indicating points scored, combos, etc. Very appropriate and very much like the graphic novels.
The story also winds around Scott’s band, Sex Bob-omb, as they attempt to get gigs and get signed to a record label. The band itself is played off-screen by Beck, but with vocals by the actual actors. This, along with the few other bands having their own off-screen counterparts (Crash N’ the Boys are done by Broken Social Scene and The Clash at Demonhead are performed by Metric) makes for a pretty kick ass soundtrack.
Adding to the soundtrack mix and enhancing the gamer element, there are numerous sound effects and music bites which were allowed in the movie by Nintendo and other game companies, mainly from Zelda: A Link to the Past. If you’re attentive and a nerd, you’ll laugh your ass off.
There are also some kick-ass 8-bit techno tracks by Dan the Automator.
Usually, when you’re staring down the barrel of a movie like Scott Pilgrim, you tend to have doubts. Especially when you realize that there are six volumes worth of graphic novel and just under two hours of screen time. How many times in the recent comic book onslaught have we seen things that are left to be assumed or left unexplained or come across jumbled because whatever writer/director combo was working on the damn thing wanted to squeeze fifty issues worth of backstory in to a two-hour nugget?
Edgar Wright does his job well here.
The movie is extremely fast paced, scenes often changing quickly and through conversations. There is little to no dead-time in this movie. The dramatic pauses are short if at all. There isn’t much of a break in the action or the dialogue. The strange thing is, the movie is sort of rushed without making itself feel rushed. You still get the whole story and the whole idea. Edgar has created the ultimate fat-trimmed comic movie and he’s done so with the whole-hearted approval of the series creator, which is impressive.
He’s also done this while still keeping the movie relevant and incredibly entertaining instead of just having it as sort of a live-action Cliff’s Notes version of the graphic novel. My hat’s off to him yet again. You just can’t go wrong with Edgar at the helm.
It’s tough to really focus on what made this movie awesome. Jason Scwartzmann as the leader of the League of Evil Exes, Gideon, is a perfect asshole. Chris Evans as action star Lucas Lee proves that he still has the comic chops which made his Human Torch the most interesting thing in the Fantastic Four movies aside from Jessica Alba’s… well…
Other supporting cast includes Kieran Culkin (yep, Maculay’s brother) as Scott’s gay roommate Wallace Wells, Anna Kendrick as Scott’s sister Stacy, and Brandon Routh as Todd, the super-powered Vegan Evil Ex.
Unlike most comic movies, I don’t think you need to read the books before you go. Though, I think you totally should. The books are even funnier and more entertaining than the movie (and also sport a different sort of ending). The movie keeps up and is a wonderful way to bring Scott Pilgrim to the masses who don’t really want to pick up a manga-sized graphic novel and actually read words. You should read the books first, though. There are in-jokes and stuff, but not too many to distract from the rest of the movie.
You’ll have more of an appreciation for the movie if you read the books first, but not so much if you see the movie before you read the books. I dunno, just a thought, but I think it would be true.
This movie is worth whatever you have to pay to see it and is definitely one of my favorites of this year so far. Highly recommend. Must see. Two thumbs. All that.
Some reviewers panned it, but that just proves how old, crusty, and jaded the “professional” review community really is (citing that the movie moves too fast or has too many “young people” jokes).
The REAL reviewer says that this is an awesome flick. Have I led you wrong yet, faithful reader? Do you not take my word for everything due to my candid, honest nature?
Hang on… Don’t answer that right away.
Bidula’s Last Word: 9.75/10 (loses .25 because I thought it was a little too short, maybe)