There aren’t many reasons to love Scott Pilgrim. The 22-year-old guitarist (played by Michael Cera) dates a high schooler, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), mooches off of his gay roommate (Kieran Culkin) and is Canadian. And on top of it, his band’s called “Sex Bomb-Omb.” But maybe what’s redeemable about Scott — and this movie — is the music and the bold visuals, inspired by Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels.
“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is awkward — for the most part, Michael Cera looks like an awkward turtle. And geeky. And loooong. Set in Canada, the film tracks Scott Pilgrim as he battles his second girlfriend’s (Ramona Flowers — Mary Elizabeth Winstead) exes.
The movie elements that derive from the graphic novel are strikingly well done. Onomatopoeic exclamations (BRRRR or DING DONG) stream across the frame, hearts appear when people kiss, cuts between scenes are quick and screen splits really work. The quality of the fight choreography and sequences — reminiscent of “Kill Bill” cum “Sin City” cum manga/anime — blows you away for a movie you can’t, and shouldn’t, take too seriously. Video gamers will love the gaming touches, where everyday actions get you points, be it professing one’s love, getting a password right or defeating an ex.
Yet the movie starts slow and lacks editing finesse. It’s also too gimmicky, with dream sequences, weird inserts into one’s brain and the ability to replay the ending when things don’t go as planned. Scott even has to battle himself at the film’s end. The movie leaves you wanting more Anna Kendrick (Scott’s sister) and Ellen Wong, who was by far the cutest chick in the movie. The movie’s overreliance on stereotypes is also unsavory. The first ex, for example, Matthew Patel, breaks into a Bollywood-style number and has mystical powers.
At the end of the day, though, this flick is about what most flicks are about: getting the girl. Scott’s roommate tells him, “If you want something bad, you have to fight for it.”
And Scott’s coming of age (even at 22) is coupled with the realization that self-respect may be bigger than love and that it sometimes is about yourself and not the girl.
This punchline is a long time coming. I can’t help but agree with Ramona when she says, “I don’t enjoy all of this. I’m sick of it.”
Did she really have to have seven exes? Could she not have had two fewer? I mean, how high were the writers when this movie was made? And why is this not ending?
Scott is essentially living a video game, with redoes, flying leaps to doors and the ability to emerge unscathed from fantastic fight sequences. But, however optimistic the message, life isn’t a video game. There aren’t redoes, we don’t get coins when we defeat our biggest fears and we don’t always get the girl if we try our hardest. But, hey, Scott, we did learn something. We never want to see this movie again.