Scott Pilgrim vs. The Box Office

So I just saw an awesome movie this weekend, and you probably didn’t.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World is the third theatrical release Edgar Wright has co-written and directed.  I’ll make no secret of the fact that he’s one of my favorite directors.

Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are two of my favorite comedies, in part because he knows better than anyone how to blend a sense of drama and excitement into his comedy.  His scripts are extremely well crafted, and upon multiple viewings you can tell that absolutely everything in the movie has a reason to be there.  A reviewer I know said that Hot Fuzz should be studied by film students as an example of a tightly written screenplay, and I totally agree. Scott Pilgrim vs The World is a departure for Wright in some ways.  He’s no longer teamed up with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (but I hope that gang gets back together for a SF comedy at some point).

In other ways this isn’t a departure at all for Wright, because this guy loves juxtaposition.  He does not do normal.  He takes two ideas that shouldn’t be together, and smashes them together.  Romantic comedy and zombie movie.  Small town police murder mystery and blockbuster action movie.

These are not “you got your chocolate on my peanut butter” combinations.

At least, not at first glance.  But Wright and his co-writers take the elements that make these individual movie genres work, and manages to fit them together like a grand jigsaw puzzle.

Couple of Fun Facts: This is based on the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels, which are written by Canadian Bryan Lee O'Malley and set in Toronto. Rather than do the usual and re-set it in America, Wright keeps it in Toronto. Also, Michael Cera is Canadian.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World continues this tradition.  It combines elements of an ordinary slacker rom-com with every over the top idea you’ve ever seen in video games/comic books/anime and so on. Consider combining these two elements:

A slacker in a band that’s going nowhere is dating a high school girl, only to end up falling for a new girl in town who’s haunting his dreams.  Her past is filled with pain and broken hearts, and she’s just trying to get a new start.  After some awkward encounters, they go out… you get the idea.

With:

In order to date her, he has to duel the League of Evil Exes, her seven evil ex-boyfriends, to the death.  This happens in a series of battles that include smashing through buildings, leaping dozens of feet into the air, sword duels, psychic powers, dueling bands, and more.  The battles play out like a video game come to life.

Like his other films, Wright pulls off the combination masterfully.  It’s an utterly surreal movie that in a very ordinary setting.  People barely bat an eye at the thought of these fights taking place, like it’s a bit odd and that’s about it.

In many ways, Edgar Wright succeeds where Ang Lee failed with The Hulk.  Lee tried to add elements into the film that made it seem like a comic book, and while it was a cute technique, it ultimately didn’t work.  Maybe it’s because he didn’t go far enough.

Wright, on the other hand, cranks it up to 11 and doesn’t hold back.  This is a stylish comic book done as a movie, plain and simple.  Scenes transition rapidly from one location to another in a way that challenges you to keep up at first.  It might be tricky for some, but trust me, you’ll be fine. I was.

See, it’s honesty time.  The movie isn’t flawless, but it becomes flawless.  I went in psyched about this film.  I wanted to like it, and that always helps when enjoying a film. However, during the first ten minutes I was worried.  I thought I might have made a mistake and was in for a letdown.   The character interactions and rapid transitions not only took getting used to, it was a bit confusing.  It wasn’t bad, but it made me thing “uh, oh…” and fearing the technique would fall completely flat.  It wouldn’t be the first time trailers had lied to me, after all.

But it builds and gives you time to get used to this movie’s style.  And by the time the story really kicks in, you’re primed and ready to enjoy.  From that point on, you accept everything that’s thrown at you, bizarre as it is, and it works.

If you’re wondering whether you should see this film before it disappears from theatres, let me save you the trouble and just tell you: YES.  Right now it’s tanking at the box office, and it really doesn’t deserve to be.  It deserves your support!  Get out there and see it!

You might have heard some BS reasons not to see it.

Michael Cera stars in it:

Yeah, yeah.  Lots of people hate him.  Who cares?  He’s perfect for this role.

Only certain people will get it, and you’re not one of them:

B.S..  There is a difference between a movie that only certain people will understand, and a movie that is aimed at certain people, but made accessible to all.  This is definitely the latter.

I think kids too young to get the 8-bit graphic references will have no problem adapting to the retro elements, and adults who were too old for Street Fighter when it came out can still get their minds into a younger frame of mind.  It’s not that hard.  I can enjoy Charlie Chaplin, for crying out loud.

Eh, I could go on with other reasons, but what’s the point?  Most them seem to amount to whining and bitching – it treats women like objects (no it does not, get over yourself), Scott is an unlikeable douche (he does some douchy things, but he’s still likable, the whole point of the story is he learns to take responsibility and make things right).

Now, I can’t guarantee this movie will be your cup of tea.  You might hate it.  But you know what?  You might just love it.  I did.  I think it’s worth the risk if only to enjoy seeing how this was put together.

In short, if you can enjoy this trailer, you can be pretty sure you’ll love this movie.

I don’t buy DVDs much anymore, but this one is definitely going into my collection.

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