Monday, August 16, 2010

The World is Really Against Scott Pilgrim

There aren’t too many great films based on the video gaming culture at large. It would be dismissive of me if I didn’t mention Grandma’s Boy, but let’s be honest: as much as I acknowledge that Grandma’s Boy had really funny moments, it is not a very good film overall. The problem with Grandma’s boy is that it appeals to the stereotypical 17-year old male who delights in laughing at pot and sex jokes.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is nothing like Grandma’s Boy. Nor is like any other comedy that I have seen this summer so far. The film is based off of the graphic novel of the same name by Brian Lee O’Malley. Director Edgar Wright (best known for directing the superb zombie parody fest Shaun of the Dead) knew what he was working with and was obviously familiar with the material. What I mean by “material” is not just the graphic novel, but also the many video game references laced throughout.

Not to say that the film was horribly done. The film was very well put together and was incredibly colorful and imaginative, but the film still presents its own set of issues. One of the main issues of the film is the pacing. The pacing seems unbalanced at certain points. One of the best examples would be when Scott faces the Katayanagi twins (Shota and Keita Saito). The entire sequence is rushed and very little is explained about the brothers in the scene before and during the Battle of the Bands. Of course the scene before does try to give the twins their own history with Ramona, but even that is not explained at all.

Another issue that persisted with the film is some of the characters. Although they were executed wonderfully, they seem to play out as stock characters as opposed to real people. The only characters that felt real were Wallace (Kieran Culkan), Knives (Ellen Wong) and Scott’s band members. Michael Cera at this point is starting to be type casted but this film did allow him to play the awkward, snarky, somewhat jerky guy as opposed to the awkward, snarky, but sweet guy. There is not much of a difference there Michael, next time you accept a role, make sure you are playing a jerk, I have faith that you can show a lot more range when you are given the opportunity to do so.

The last and biggest issue with the film is the humor. Much of the humor of this film lies with the audience’s knowledge of video games and video gaming culture. This is one of the problems that I had with the film. One of my biggest issues is “how can I recommend this film?” Do not misunderstand me, the jokes and the references in the film were incredibly clever and funny (except for the Seinfeld riff and the laugh track). The main issue is will the audience get it? I’m fairly certain that most of the audience that goes to see this film will know a little bit about video games, but not enough to enjoy and “get” the jokes Scott Pilgrim will throw your way.

Overall, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was an enjoyable and entertaining experience for me. It is funny, clever, bright, exciting and sweet. If I was certain that it would be a film that the average movie audience would enjoy then I would highly recommend it. However, with so many video game references, this is a film that only members of the geek culture (like myself) would truly enjoy and appreciate. As for the rest of the movie audience population, I wouldn’t be so sure.

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