Every once in a while a film comes along that speaks for an entire generation. For some it was the apathetic youthful rebellion of the 1990’s, so appropriately dished out in films such as Slacker, Empire Records or Reality Bites. Youth culture from the 1980’s could be encapsulated in any number of comedies or dramas that were ever plentiful for that time. I personally never thought that my own generation would be displayed in a film starring Michael Cera of all people, but you can’t pick your horses some times. Not that Michael Cera doesn’t completely and utterly aquit himself in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, but his name alone is enough to drive away any self respecting film geek that sees how completely one dimensional he tends to be. With that said, like so many other, I loved Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and what’s more, I love Scott Pilgrim himself.
Scott Pilgrim has a girlfriend in high school. Although he himself is not far removed from high school himself, it still seems socially awkward to nearly everyone around him. Scott’s girlfriend, the adorable Knives Chou (played by Emily Wong), loves him so much that it gets to the point of obsession. Scott and Knives get along great however, that is until he meets Ramona Flowers. Ramona is an American girl fresh in Toronto who sticks out like a sore thumb thanks mostly to her offbeat fashion sense, rollerblades and her hair color which is often coordinated with her outfit. Scott falls in love and desperately starts searching her out. When he finally manages to take her out, without breaking up with Knives first, he discovers that Ramona has a history. A very painful history. Ramona’s dumped exes have teamed together in order to form a League of Evil Exes and now if Scott wants to continue to see Ramona, he’ll have to fight off all seven of them!
It is rather unfortunate to see Scott Pilgrim under-perform at the box office the way that it has. Opening on the same day as Sylvester Stallone’s highly anticipated, but rather dull and conventional, The Expendables left it gasping for breath. A very boring ad campaign also helped to seal its fate, which is unfortunate. Based upon a graphic novel, I purposefully avoided the books before seeing the movie out of an affection for Edgar Wright’s work. Although I am sure the comic is brilliantly written (as so much of it seems to have been translated into this feature), I wanted this experience to be wholly new and natural for me. Edgar Wright is a filmmaker that most film geeks have grown to appreciate since his feature debut Shaun of the Dead, however many of us wondered what his first non-Simon Pegg/Nick Frost movie might look like and if Scott Pilgrim is any indication he is as much a cerebral filmmaker as he is a brilliant visual director.
Going back to Scott Pilgrim as a mouthpiece for my particular generation, it truly speaks towards the iGeneration . To those of us who grew up playing our NES and have a fascination with computer technology, Scott Pilgrim presents a world that is loaded to bear with influences and references that run the gamut of geek culture. Video game culture is on display here but there is also a lot here for Comic Book geeks to freak out about. Movie nerds have reason to rejoice as well however, because Edgar Wright is still as influenced by all of cinema as he always has been. The references come at a mile a minute pace, as the movie flashes by those of us in the audience. Wright manages to mix all of this into a cohesive whole, which shows a skilled hand as the movie itself balloons into a massive and epic trip through the dating mindset of most twenty-somethings.
The film itself is such a visual piece of work that it takes a few moments to come down off of the high. While walking out of the theaters, both times that I went to see it (with different people, I’m not that much of a fanboy), I couldn’t help but feel a slight dizziness from being so absorbed in the visual realm of the film. The sound effects that we hear onscreen are often accompanied by their onscreen text representation, as in a comic book, and characters often interact with these action blurbs that pop up. They either obscure them as if they someone had written an action verb on the wall behind a character, or they might literally crash into them. The movie remains creative in the way that Wright toys with this little invention of his and it is all part of the surreal fun that is Scott Pilgrim. Who knows, does this movie actually take place in our reality but these things that happen are just visual manifestations of Scott’s inner monologue. Is this some kind of hyper-reality where doors often exist out in the middle of nowhere that lead our characters to whatever setting they desire? These are questions I can’t answer, but in terms of pure fun – this imagination is unexplained and beautiful!
You can argue that this isn’t the deepest film ever written. You can argue that Ramona and Knives Chau are simply objects for Scott to pine for and remain paper thin characters (something I disagree with), but unless you’re heartless you can’t deny the ridiculous amount of fun that Scott Pilgrim packs with its punch. It isn’t the best film of the summer for me, but it is right up there and certainly deserves your attention before it is pulled from theaters.