Scott Pilgrim is a movie I am both really excited about while at the same time couldn’t care less about. It’s a lot like watching a fireworks display, evoking “oohs” and “ahhs” from the audience in the moment, but is equally easy to walk away from feeling nothing more than an hour and fifty minutes older than when you went in. This is the anti-Winter’s Bone, which is the last movie I have seen at the theaters.
But lets talk about the good stuff! Edgar Wright, the director, has earned himself a place on my “I Will See His Movies Regardless Of Reviews Or Word Of Mouth” list after Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Scott Pilgrim is the most successful comic book movie ever, in the sense that the sensation of watching this is very much like reading the panels of a comic book. The last movie that really went for this feeling was Ang Lee’s Hulk, which most people (not me, though) thought was fairly shitty.
Wright plays around a lot in this movie. There are so many cool touches here that the movie is definitely worth seeing just, well, for seeing. Every sound effect onomatopoeia is displayed visually like the old 1960s Batman television show. When Ramona Flowers (the object of Scott Pilgrim’s affection) rollerblades through the Toronto snow, it melts away to provide a clear track. There are also great music cues- the Universal Studios theme is used as a joke twice (once as the opening logo, where it morphed into an electronic video game theme, and again as the triumphant overture used to introduce one of Ramona’s evil ex’s) and the Seinfeld theme makes an appearance as well. I also liked how Wright was able to make refrigerator magnets into a fairly funny joke.
The biggest visual theme of the movie is that of video games, mainly of the Mortal Combat variety. I had stopped playing video games by this point, so I probably missed out on a lot of the intricacies, but I thought it was an interesting visual way present how someone has to deal with the fact that your girlfriend has had ex-boyfriends. The League of Seven Evil Exs is clever idea, although in this movie, some work better than others. I really like Brandon Routh as the Vegan Ex, where his smug veganism gives him superpowers. Chris Evans was also great as the super-pompous A-list actor whose skating skills are his undoing (although Evans seems to be channeling my friend The Ninja from the Ask a Ninja website in his performance). Watching Scott Pilgrim battle each of these exs is about as entertaining as each individual ex proved to be, so I would say I really like about 4 of the 7 (although kudos to the casting director who decided to cast Ann from Arrested Development as one of the exs).
I’ve mentioned the word “visual” about 42 times so far in this review, and for good reason- the visuals are the best thing about it. In fact, the “funny” in this movie doesn’t really come from Michael Cera (who is once again doing his thing), but in the way Edgar Wright tells the story as a comic book. Each little vignette works, and I was impressed at all the information that was packed into every nook and cranny of the movie. What didn’t work is that I thought that Ramona Flowers wasn’t much to fight about, and neither was Scott Pilgrim, for that matter. Here is a movie in which I really didn’t care about one single character, and that is a problem for me. Maybe it won’t be for you, and maybe the characters weren’t the point. Maybe they exist merely to be vessels for the story to get from Point A to Point B. I wanted to like these people though, and while I didn’t not like them, I was indifferent from the moment it began to the moment it ended.
Still, this is a good movie that succeeds more than it fails.