‘Scott Pilgrim’ is a Visually Stunning Comedy Classic

Monday, August 9, 2010
By Rick Duran
Michael Cera and Jason Schwartzman in 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World'

Michael Cera and Jason Schwartzman in 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World'

In Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Michael Cera’s usual prototype is updated into a cartoonish action hero, headlining a razor-sharp all-star cast in one of the year’s best films. But the real star is director Edgar Wright, who elevates himself as one of comedy’s most visionary filmmakers.

Scott Pilgrim (Cera) is a Canadian bass player for local indie band Sex Bob-omb, caught between dating a clingy 17-year-old Knives (played by newcomer Ellen Wong) and a mysterious hipster named Ramona (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead.) However, in order to date his dreamgirl Ramona, he must first defeat her “Seven Evil Exes.” Exes, not ex-boyfriends, got it? Good.

The film is an adaptation of the Scott Pilgrim cult comic series, literally becoming a live-action comic book/anime cartoon. Many recent comic adaptations such as Watchmen and Kick-Ass have flirted with faithfully recreating the look of their origins, but this film’s goal is to literally take its viewers into the pages. Director Edgar Wright (the man behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) spares no kitschy expense, utilizing video game sound effect, text boxes and action word bubbles (ala the 1960’s Batman series’ “POW!” “ZAP!”) This campy humor is consistent throughout the film’s two worlds; the indie teen dialogue and the Japanese animation-inspired action scenes with the Seven Evil Exes. Scott Pilgrim’s journey is followed like a video games (yes, we are even updated with his score from every battle.) The film’s very first frames (a Nintendo-ized interpretation of the Universal logo) instantly informs us of the ride we’re in for.

sp1But the film is not all-style/no-substance.  Scott Pilgrim vs. the World perfects what the Wachowski’s Speed Racer failed miserably at; its visual gags are matched by the comic timing of its hilarious cast. Each supporting role is given its chance to steal scenes. Kieran Culkin is a highlight as Scott’s dry-witted gay roommate; Aubrey Plaza channels her Parks and Recreation/Funny People indie snob playing a disapproving record-store clerk; while Oscar-nominee Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air) is adorable as Scott’s ditzy-yet-stern older sister. The Evil Exes also provide great performances such as The Fantasic Four/Captain America’s Chris Evans as a professional skater-turned action-film-star and Superman Returns‘ Brandon Routh as the bass player dating Scott’s ex-girlfriend. Yes, I deliberately name-checked the superhero references on purpose. The comic path-crossing is too awesome not to reference. Same goes for Cera’s scenes opposite his Arrested Development girlfriend Mae Whitman (AD fans, listen closely for a “Her?” that quickly slips by during a fight scene.) Jason Schwartzman also shines as the film’s main villain, Ramona’s most recent ex-boyfriend, a record label exec interested in signing Scott’s band. Playing yet another smarmy prick, not far off from similar characters in Rushmore and Funny People, Schwartzman provides plenty of attitude during the climactic fight scenes in the third act.

sp3Scott Pilgrim will most-likely divide audiences, inspiring many love-versus-hate debates with its overload of tongue-in-cheek humor. Count me in the ‘Loved It’ column, and I’m one of many who couldn’t stand the similar dialogue/indie rock soundtrack scenes from Juno. In fact, some of Wright most amazingly directed scenes are the visual interpretations of the musical performances. The sonic waves that blow across the screen are awe-inspiring. Likewise, the use of light and bright color illuminating every hit from the fight scenes (which there are MANY) is so extravagant that you can’t help but but into what plays onscreen. The fact that two nerdy actors like Cera and Schwartzman give one of the most exciting action scenes of the summer speaks volumes about the freedoms Wright takes in creating the film’s comic/videogame world. Wright’s previous work had already shown his mastery in directing sharp comedic performances from actors like Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. His earlier films also brought his Tarantino-ish love of B-Movie genres into modern comedy. But now with Scott Pilgrim, Edgar Wright has proven to be an expert in both comedy and CGI-flavored big action sequences. The visionary blend of style and performance shown here makes it exciting to see where Wright will go next.

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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World opens in theaters across the U.S. on Friday, August 13th, 2010.

For more info, visit the film’s official website.

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6 Responses to “‘Scott Pilgrim’ is a Visually Stunning Comedy Classic”

  1. Jack

    I loved this movie, more than words can explain.

    #3278
  2. Jack

    http://youtu.be/GMP4iF_kHEA
    That describes how I felt about the film.

    #3279
  3. Kevin Crossman

    This is definitely the film to see this weekend (well, for those who are already caught up. I still haven’t seen The Other Guys, since I saw both Dinner for Schmucks and Middle Men this weekend).

    I think the visual sensibility will resonate with many, but agree it might be love it/hate it.

    #3287
  4. jon

    I believe I saw the “her?” reference in a trailer and thats when it clicked that she looked familiar.

    #3293
  5. Kevin Crossman

    “The Voice” is Bill Hader.

    #3483
  6. Kevin Crossman

    This was such a great movie. Cera definitely amped it up a bit - not a big change from his normal persona but flashes of bad-ass-esh-ness. Schwartzman was as smarmy as ever. :-)

    #3859

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