Friday, April 8, 2011

DocStout's brief thoughts on.... 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' (2010)

Hello, everyone. Doc here, doing a fill-in guest post for Joel here on “A Momentary Lapse.” I'm taking a break from writing about nerdy, geeky things at my own blog, “What's Next – The Unemployed Geek” to write about a nerdy, geeky movie here.

I wanted to see this movie nearly as soon as I heard about it, even though I was initially unfamiliar with the graphic novel it is based on. Entertainment based on comics and graphic novels has kind of a checkered past. A filmmaker has to balance a lot of elements, as comic fans basically want to see their beloved properties replicated exactly on the screen, the average person watching a movie wants to see something not too far out of their comfort zone, and a filmmaker wants to successfully translate something from one medium to another while putting their own creativity into the project. This delicate juggling act has been attempted many times before, with varying degrees of success.

Successful Adaptation.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World falls cleanly on the side of “pleasing fans of the comic”, which, to declare my own personal bias, is where I like these things to land. The story follows the life of the geeky guy who never really got over his last ex, plays in a band and complicates his life by dating a “fake asian high school girlfriend” until he meets the woman of his dreams (literally.) After awkwardly wooing her (as any character played by Michael Cera tends to do,) he discovers a bit about her past. Namely, she has 7 evil exes, who he'll have to fight to the death in order to be with her.

...not so much.
A lot of people will initially see a few of the stylistic elements in this movie and make up their minds about it really quickly. There are frequently elements on-screen of things normally only seen in comics or video games that are a part of the reality in this world, and people either buy into those things and grin, or think 'that was stupid' and move on. Personally, when I see comic book “action effects” hanging in the air, or 8-bit Nintendo-style RPG graphics appear to illustrate a concept, I think it is awesome. The characters are into the things that make their presence known in this world, and it gives the setting a distinct “feel” to it.

The fight scenes are awesome, and the casting for most of the roles, even the fairly minor characters feels spot-on, with the only minor doubts coming from the casting and performance of the lead. Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim like... well, virtually any other Michael Cera role, and we only know that he is a womanizer with awesome talents because the script and dialogue tells us so. His performance isn't distracting enough to diminish the movie, and there are some scenes with him that are pure gold. (I particularly liked a moment when Scott is asked if he can see a future with Ramona, and he asks confusedly and with apt comic timing... “Like... with jetpacks?”)

This is an example of how faithful to the comic certain parts are.

The pacing of the movie itself has some bumps and bruises along the way, but I don't think it really ever slows down enough where I felt bored, even for a moment, or is so fast that I can't believe in the progression of character development (think Dune). This is a film I can (and have) watch(ed) multiple times, and can appreciate some of the clever bits better the second time through.

This is definitely not for everyone, but if you are a fan of anime, comics, 8-bit videogames and are not immediately turned away by “quirky Michael Cera love story,” it is likely the movie for you. My rating puts it at 4 out of 5 stars, only deducting a star for the feeling that the lead could maybe have been better cast.

One last note, thanks to Joel for lending me his soapbox to stand on and yell for a few, and in case you missed it, here is a link here to his guest spot on my own blog, What's Next – The Unemployed Geek.


  1. Fills all my boxes, will try and see it, good review.

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